Delineation of Current Terminology: Confusion of the Mutation Issue

Delineation of Current Terminology:

Confusion of the Mutation Issue

D. A. Schoch (2011)

ABSTRACT

WITHIN the last few decades, awareness has developed in the world of genetics having to do with the nature of genetic change. According to classical thought, DNA damaging events and mutations occur randomly throughout the genome of organisms purely by accident. However, a growing body of evidence demonstrates that some genetic change occurs in non-replication, non-random events. The literature gives evidence of two distinct categories of genetic change addressed by the single term “mutation.” These two categories consist of (1) replication-dependent, random chance genetic changes, and (2) non-random chance genetic adaptive change that originate as non-replication dependent changes. Logically, failure to distinguish between these two processes by separate terminology may have caused problems in understanding genetic systems. This paper aims to examine and make delineation between these two phenomena, so further research can proceed with improved knowledge and understanding of genomic processes, which require clear differentiation. Reasonable misunderstanding of many issues concerning heritability, variation, adaptation, and especially mutation, appear as potentially misleading factors without such demarcation. This has the potential of directly affecting cancer research, as well as other pertinent medical fields dealing with genetic diseases.

Keywords: mutation, genetic changes, VGC’s, adaptation, biotic entropy.

INTRODUCTION

      WHY do we observe some mutations arriving on the scene exactly when needed for the survival of organisms? If mutations do indeed exist as random, undirected events, why do some demonstrate initiation by genetic mechanisms of the organism? How can mutations exist as both random and non-random genetic events at the same time? Have we discovered a paradox in the nature of genetic change, or are we observing two different phenomena at work? This paper addresses the subject of genetic change. Current belief concerning the nature of mutations has them occurring as random genetic changes with respect to timing and placement within the genome (Elson et al. 2001; Clancy 2008; Hall 1990). In other words, they can hit the genome of an organism whenever and wherever chance might take opportunity. The many causes of mutation, while important depending upon the nature of the topic, are not discussed in this paper. However, it is acknowledged that mutagens can change nucleotides either before, or during, the copying of a gene and if correction enzymes do not catch and rectify these mistakes, the mutation can potentially effect the gene product, which can prospectively effect the health of the organism.

The term “mutation,” as currently used, denotes the accidental, random chance (ARC) copy error events that take place (or solidified by the failure of correction mechanisms) either before or after genetic replication, and has become plastic to the point of including any and all genetic change. Today, most scientists in the disparate fields of biology hold to this definition. However, the latest data demonstrates this view to be in error and in need of revision. For the purpose of clarity, this paper holds the definition of the word “mutation” as strictly ARC replication-dependent errors.

From review of the literature, it is a well attested to fact that some genetic change occurring in organisms are not due to ARC replication-dependent copy errors or DNA damaging events. In the papers on the subject, these genetic changes have been called “adaptive” mutations and “Cairnsian” mutations (in any event, they are still called “mutations”). For the purpose of clarity, it is suggested that these “adaptive” changes be called Variational Genetic Changes (VGC’s), which this paper will adopt throughout the remainder of the discussion. This acronym is suggested because, unlike ARC replication-dependent genetic changes, adaptational and variational genetic changes exist as non-ARC changes that originate from allelic material already defined within the organism’s genome. In short, these variation-dependent genetic changes, rather than replication-dependent genetic changes, are mediated by the organism’s genomic mechanisms.

This paper argues that differential classification and terminology between these two phenomena needs adopting, particularly regarding the observation in the literature that both types of genetic changes have differing mechanisms of origin. This paper demonstrates that two entirely different phenomena exists and argues that the traditionally held view of the definition of mutation subsists in opposition to the evidence in the literature. Because the findings of the data, in which the literature reveals two discrete phenomena rather than only one, go against traditionally held views of the biological community, they have become the seeds of controversy.

DISCUSSION

      Mutations (replication-dependent, ARC genetic changes), as noted earlier, have a variety of causes, both extra-cellular (such environmental agents as radiation, X-rays, gamma rays, and chemical mutagens) as well as intra-cellular (such as normal metabolic processes, methylation, replication errors, and free radical agents). These DNA damaging events fall into several categories, such as oxidation, thermal disruption, methylation, mismatched bases, deamination, depyrimidination, and depurination. These can all cause various types of accidental random changes, such as substitutions, insertions, deletions, inversions, duplications, translocations, frameshifts, transitions, transversions, CPD’s and PPS’s. All of these can lead to serious defects within the organism incurring them, if they are not arrested by the various repair mechanisms found within cells. Such repair mechanisms as nucleotide excision repair (NER), photoreactivation, base excision repair (BER), nonhomologous end joining (NHEJ), homologous recombination repair (HRR), proofreading enzymes, mismatch repair (MMR), microhomology-mediated end joining (MMEJ), translesion synthesis, DNA damage checkpoints, SOS response, and if necessary, apoptosis.

An organism’s DNA remains in constant exposure to a variety of mutagens that threaten to damage it, therefore, mutations are a part of life. Once the damage occurs, if not repaired, it can lead to mutation. Mutations can lead to hundreds of genetic illnesses and diseases (such as SCA, cancers, and tumors) that seriously hamper the health and well-being of the organism affected, to the point of suffering a painful and early death. Damage to DNA can come from many different sources, both before or during, cellular replication. If correcting mechanisms do not rectify the damage before replication occurs, or immediately afterwards by cellular proofreading enzymes, then from that point forward, the damage will become a replication-dependent mutation. Once the mutation becomes established in the cell (if missed by these correction mechanisms), the cell will no longer recognize it as an error, it will now be considered “fixed” within the DNA.

The term “mutation” has become extremely plastic in definition, and has the potential to produce major concern. The nature of mutations (ARC genetic change) is degenerative and has entropic effects (the inevitable and steady deterioration of physical systems) upon the genome, which I call “biotic entropy” (BE). The concept of entropy (as it has to do with different fields of biology) has been discussed several times in the literature in different contexts and applications (Barton and de Vladar 2009; Iwasa 1988; Xia et al. 2002). BE is accurately compared to the entropy (measurement of “noise” or degradation) in a system of information (Gray 2009), and DNA is indeed a system of information within the organism. Mutation (ARC, replication-dependent genetic change) introduces random “static” or “noise” in the information contained within the genome that, if not arrested by correction mechanisms, can result in catastrophic illnesses and diseases. However, BE is held at bay, normally, by the cellular repair mechanisms working for the survival of the cell, and ultimately, for the survival of the organism.

Since the advent of genetics, we have discovered many things about the genome, even more so now that the Human Genome Project has been initiated and completed. We have learned that DNA is divided up into chromosomes, and further divided into genes. We have learned much concerning the genomic processes that take place through the ancient art of animal husbandry, where skillful hands of animal breeders can bring out and sculpt beautiful variations of animals and birds. We have learned about variations of genes (alleles) and even greater – we are learning about how the genome stores these variant alleles, unexpressed, for future need.

Genes in storage waiting for expression

      Research is uncovering the mechanisms of adaptation and gene storage previously hidden. For example, what previously had been thought of as “junk” DNA has been discovered to code for certain RNA sequences, as well as other gene products (Crosio et al. 1996; Huang et al. 2005) in a very highly regulated mechanism of information storage. Most of these sections of DNA that were previously thought of as non-coding regions are introns. Preventing accidental expression of genes when they are not needed is one possible reason genes are broken up by introns, while introns themselves have been discovered to be coding sections in their own right. These are not cases of mutation because they are not DNA injuries or damages, nor are they sought out by repair mechanisms for correction, nor are they replication-dependent changes. On the contrary, they are mediated by genomic mechanisms and carried out with extreme precision and accuracy. It appears that introns themselves are a part of the genomic storage mechanisms that keep unexpressed alleles for future use as the organism may require.

Genes, having formerly been viewed as linear strings of nucleotide bases found in only one place within the genome, have now been demonstrated to sometimes be scattered in pieces (in trans) throughout the chromosomes like data sets on a computer hard drive. The discovery that genes act like computer data sets that can be reunited with each other and activated for expression is giving scientists in genomic studies an entirely different feel for how the genome works from what has been previously believed. Such trans-mediated gene products have been identified in the Drosophila genes mdg4 (Labrador 2001; Dorn et al. 2001) and lola (Horiuchi et al. 2003), and in the C. elegans genes eri-6 and eri-7 (Fischer et al. 2008). It is reported that genes eri-6 and eri-7 produce separate pre-messenger RNA’s that are trans-spliced together to generate a functional mRNA, eri-6/7. One question brought out by this discovery is: will there be proteins found such as eri-6 and eri-7 that are functional in and of themselves, that are also functional when trans-spliced together into a third functional product? It seems this could be a very real possibility. The main concern for this paper, however, is that trans-spliced genes are being labeled as replication-dependent ARC mutations when they are put back together for expression. The question remains, why are they being called mutations when they are obviously directed by the organism’s genomic mechanisms.

What’s more, it has been reported by Chung et al. (2007) that there are reading frames in mammalian genomes that are dual-coding. The authors go on to describe three examples of how human genes (GNAS1, XBP1, and INK4a) are dual-coded, so that there are actually two products coded for within one reading frame, or that reading frames overlap one another, producing two different products. Exactly how much of the human genome has dual-coding within reading frames of genes are unknown at this point in time, however these authors have identified forty so far. How many more mechanisms of allelic storage might be found by future research?

Some of these storage mechanisms have been demonstrated to be mediated by recombination and genomic rearrangements (Foster 2000, 1998; Harris et al. 1996) after being broken apart, presumably to keep them safely inexpressible until needed. Such trans-mediated genes are then spliced together again for expression via recombination or rearrangement mechanisms. Bull et al. (2000) records that recombination-dependent stationary-phase genetic changes take place at multiple sites within the genome. Hall (1998) lists several mechanisms and pathways for these adaptational genetic changes, including base substitutions, frameshifts, excision of mobile elements, and insertion of mobile elements – all mediated by the organism’s genomic mechanisms. Schneider and Lenski (2004) identify insertion sequence (IS) elements mediated by genomic mechanisms that both inactivate genes as well reactivate them when IS elements are excised by those same mechanisms. Schneider et al. (2004) goes on to say that “IS elements are also recognized by the recombination machinery of the cell, leading to complex rearrangements.” IS elements have been demonstrated to be a factor contributing significantly to genetic variability.

McKenzie et al. (2000) have identified such adaptive changes that are controlled by the SOS response system, as well as adaptive changes that require specific recombination proteins. These events are not ARC mutational changes, they are being specifically managed by specific genomic mechanisms under the control of genetic processes. These authors conclude their paper by stating that, “Understanding the regulation of all of the different adaptive or stationary-phase mutation mechanisms will illuminate when, how, and whether cells adjust their mutation rates and mechanisms, thereby inducing heritable changes, and presumably increasing their options for survival.” Since this paper was published, the answer to the mutation rate has been answered, and will be addressed shortly.

Beneficial “Mutations”

The literature is enamored with labeling adaptive genetic changes as “beneficial mutations,” but are they really mutations? VGC’s are beneficial to the organisms in which they occur for survival, but they are not due to replication-dependent ARC mutations. VGC’s have been researched and examined in rich detail (Foster and Cairns 1992; Williams and Foster 1994; Cairns 1998; Sletcha et al. 2002; to name a few).

The data shows three main differences between DNA damage/mutations and VGC’s, first of which is that VGC’s are specific and exact in time and place, while mutations are random chance DNA damaging events. All VGC’s are specific to the exact need of the organism at a specific time. Loewe (2008) reports “The statement that mutations are random is both profoundly true and profoundly untrue at the same time.” This statement was made viewing ARC mutations and VGC’s as one phenomena, yet making the basic random / non-random distinction between the two (as dealing with both time and placement of such genetic changes). Hall (1997) states that “The aspect of adaptive mutagenesis that remains the most contentious is the specificity of adaptive mutations,” while demonstrating that adaptive changes are specific to the “selective challenge[s]” bombarding organisms. In other words, the organism encounters an environmental challenge to survival and its genomic mechanisms meet that challenge by expressing previously stored variational alleles. Hall (1990) demonstrated that such VGC’s only occurred when they were needed by the cell incurring the change. In later experiments, Hall (1998) demonstrated again the difference between replication-dependent changes (mutations) and variation-dependent changes – which is again the specificity of time and place.

Riesenfeld et al. (1997) reports that “adaptive mutations seem to produce only those phenotypes which allow the cells to grow, whereas growth-dependent mutations occur randomly with respect to their effects on fitness” demonstrating that adaptive changes are indeed specific to the needs of the cell. Cairns and Foster (1991) have demonstrated that VGC’s are produced according to the needs of the cell, unlike the nature of the occurrences of ARC mutational changes. Harris (1996) demonstrated that stress responses are initiated to generate the appropriate genetic changes in order to arrest that stress, again showing that VGC’s are directed for the adaptational survival of the cell. Cairns et al. (1988) performing  experiments on E. coli, reported the bacteria must have some way of “producing” or “selectively retaining” specific genetic changes for the needs of the cell in order to survive, because the bacteria was producing the exact adaptive changes they needed in order to survive. These adaptive changes are possible because of the genetic variability stored within the chromosomes that can be signaled into expression by environmental stressor cues.

The specificity of time and place of VGC’s are one reason they were first called “directed” mutations, and later as “adaptive” mutations in the papers examining them. When VGC’s were first identified in the literature, it was thought they represented extremely high mutation rates that would have fostered the right mutation for that specific circumstance. However, this hypothesis is no longer used to explain such adaptive changes (Foster 2000). It has been demonstrated experimentally on E. coli that such adaptive changes are not dependent upon increased mutation rates and, in fact, that there were no replication-dependent mutations – a rate of zero, so “no replication means no replication-dependent rate” (Hall 1990). Colby and Williams (1995) also corroborate Hall’s findings.

Second, the fact has been observed that VGC’s are mediated by different genomic mechanisms from those that are replication-dependent ARC mutations. Hall (1998) makes the observation that there are multiple mechanisms and pathways of VGC expression, and none of them are replication-dependent mechanisms which induce ARC genetic changes. Some of these adaptational changes are mediated by specific insertion sequence (IS) elements, via insertion and perfect excision of such mobile elements that turn “on” or “off” specific genes for expression (Schneider and Lenski 2004; Arjan et al. 2004), with over 500 such elements discovered so far. IS elements inactivate genes by means of reading frame disruptions (inserting themselves exactly where they are needed to do so), or reactivate said genes by reversions or the excisions of insertion activities previously mentioned. If it were not for the precision of IS element placements, they would be reeking havoc within the genome by turning on and off genes at random. Hall (1988) identifies IS elements as also providing promoters for specific genes as well as activating “cryptic” genes by inserting themselves into upstream regions of the chromosome.

There is also evidence that some VGC’s are mediated by specific recombination events, making them recombination-dependent genetic changes, and further identifies specific enzymes implicated in initiating such recombination events by nicking (Foster 1998, 2000; Rosenberg et al. 1998). Foster states that recombination events rearrange “existing alleles” and can “create new ones.” Loewe (2008) further elucidates on this phenomena by stating these genetic processes can “lead to the production of new genes by pasting material from different genes together.” I submit that what’s being identified here, is previously inactivated genes through rearrangement processes, stored in-trans, being brought back together again for expression through recombination. Harris et al. (1996) further identify specific enzymes responsible for reading frame disruptions, which initiate recombination-dependent VGC’s. More enzyme-mediated VGC’s have been identified, such as Rpos-dependent events for specific gene expression (Lombardo et al. 2003). McKenzie et al. (2000) ratify that VGC’s are “tightly regulated” responses by genomic mechanisms, not replication-dependent ARC mutational events.

Third, it has been observed that VGC’s are variation-dependent, non-ARC genetic changes, while mutations are the exact opposite (Riesenfeld et al. 1997). Cairns et al. (1988) also identify VGC’s as being a property of cells in stationary phase, rather than being growth-dependent, which Hall (1997, 1998) confirms. VGC’s have been demonstrated to occur when chromosomes are not being actively replicated in E. coli during nutrition starvation (Williams and Foster 2007). VGC’s are not replication-dependent changes, but have been demonstrated to be stress induced, usually by environmental stressor elements.

Another key difference between these two phenomena is that the cell has a variety of damage repair mechanisms in place to deal with the different kinds of damage that it suffers. In comparison, there are no known attempts by the cell to search out or repair VGC’s – indicating that cells do not recognize them as “damages.” In fact, they are not DNA damage, nor mutations. On the contrary, they are part of normal genomic processes for the continued survival of the organism via adaptation. These discoveries explain the phenomena observed in such cases as E. coli adaptation (Cairns et al. 1988) where the authors make the statement, “bacteria apparently have an extensive armoury of such ‘cryptic’ genes that can be called upon for the metabolism of unusual substrates.” Genes do indeed seem not only to be encrypted, but also broken up and dispersed throughout the genome to be called upon when needed. In every case, the needs of the organism appear to be environmentally induced.

Response to environmental cues

VGC’s in gene expression are induced specifically by the organism’s genome in response to environmental cues for the benefit of the organism. While ARC mutations can also be induced by environmental mutagens, they have the opposite affect. These environmentally cued genetic mechanisms give the organism access to varying phenotypes for survival and adaptability. How genetic mechanisms of adaptation and fitness relate to variation, working in connection with environmental cues, is a long standing question due to the lack of empirical studies documenting the causal relationships between the environment and the molecular underpinnings of fitness related variation (Storz 2007). Storz et al. goes on to identify the “difficulty of integrating molecular data with evidence for causal effects on organismal fitness” and examines specific mechanisms that enable organisms to adapt to their specific environments.

These environmental cueing factors can be altitude (high or low), light cycles or light sensitivity (such as in deep sea dwelling organisms), temperature, diet (such as differing sizes and hardness of seeds impacting the thickness of bird beaks), humidity, hardness of soil, oxygen levels…any number of environmental dynamics (Ralson and Shaw 2008). All of these factors have an effect upon the organism’s phenotype, demonstrating a rich and complex interaction between genes and the environment (Lobo 2008; Lobo and Shaw 2008). These environmentally induced changes in gene expression are called “gene-environment interchangeability” and help the organism to adapt its phenotype to the specific “selective circumstances” they may find themselves in (Leimar 2009). The expression of the needed allele appears to be stress induced, caused by changes in the organism’s environment, which is why such changes are specific to the needs of the organism for its survival.

These traits have been demonstrated by thousands of years of domestic breeding in hundreds of different species, such as bovine, dog, pigeon, etc. The only difference between domestic breeds and wild types is man’s hand culling and bringing out the traits he desires in each specific breed. We create more colorful birds, more milk producing cows, different dog breeds for work or for show, through careful breeding tactics. While, in the wild, these different allelic traits are only expressed in time of stress induced by the animal’s environment – but the genetic mechanisms are the same that operate in both cases. In some cases there are multiple environmental cues that signal genomic changes, such as both photoperiod and ambient temperature affecting the thermogenesis of the Djungarian hamsters (Heldmaier et al. 1982). In their study on domesticated cattle in Europe and Africa, Gautier et al. (2007) concluded from their research and observations that the genetic changes responsible for the variation between each population were not consistent with models considering replication-dependent ARC changes. To use a famous example, in “Darwin’s finches,” what are the environmental cues for the differences in beak size and thickness for each variation of bird on each different island? Presumably, the only cue seems to be the hardness of the seeds on which each island variety has to deal with. If this is true, is the exact environmental cue (for example) how many times a bird has to peck at the outer shell of the seed? Are the vibrations upon the beak from being hit against the hard shell some kind of trigger for beak thickness (in the same way that shivering thermogenesis is activated by the shivering of the body)?

The speed of which these changes occurred in the finches is simply too fast to be considered strictly replication-dependent ARC mutations, they are more likely VGC changes activated into expression by the individual environmental cues the finches’ genome’s received after being first introduced to the islands. VGC’s are the exact opposite in nature as to their effects when compared with those of ARC mutations. Variational changes are beneficial genetic changes occurring within organisms, the materials of adaptation, while the effects of ARC mutations are nearly always deleterious to the organism. Two different phenomena, with different origins and with different final effects that are opposite one another. These facts seem to make clear that there is a natural distinction between these two genetic phenomena, one that we also need to differentiate between.

Conclusion

      It all began with a paper by Cairns et al. (1988) that challenged the currently held view of mutations, and other papers quickly followed presenting concordant observations (Foster 2000). Such papers as these were viewed with much skepticism because they challenged the fundamental premise that all genetic change occurs only randomly as chance events without respect to any advantages they may give an organism (Colby and Williams 1995). Drake stated in her book, The Molecular Basis of Mutation (1970) that “It is clear that the experimental evidence supporting many currently popular hypotheses concerning mutational processes is quite inadequate.” Those words, written almost forty years ago, still appear to hold true today. Nevertheless, clarifying the terminology can advance understanding of biological processes.

Addressing these different classes of genetic change, Hall (1990) stated, “although the two classes of mutations are basically distinct and have different molecular mechanisms…evidence for Cairnsian mutations has now been found in all cases where it has been sought.” According to the evidence in the literature, it appears that we are, indeed, observing two distinct classes of genetic change that must be differentiated between. If not, we could be inundated with perplexity in certain aspects of our research until these distinctions are recognized. For example, Hall himself (1988) illustrates this point in the following quote: “[W]e are ignorant of the fundamental mechanisms and rates of mutations in non-growing but metabolizing cells.” If we are talking about two entirely different phenomena, the mutations Hall addresses here are non-ARC genetic changes (VGC’s), in which there wouldn’t be a mutation rate because these changes occur naturally in populations only when they are cued by the environment. It is important for research to delineate between these two phenomena, for correct “characterization of individual beneficial mutations may lead to the identification of underlying molecular rules and constraints, as well as common adaptive pathways” (Rainey 2000; Travisano 2001; Otto 2002 as reported on by Arjan et al. 2004).

The history of medicine demonstrates a succession of theories of disease and treatment. A strong evidence base is now a requirement for the adoption of new treatments. Similar criteria regarding strength of evidence should be applied to molecular science that now underpins many medical advances. The specificity of non-ARC genetic changes have been demonstrated experimentally (Hall 1997) numerous times by different scientists. Indeed, understanding the differential mechanisms of change, fully and correctly, is critical to the understanding of any genetic phenomena under investigation. Clarity about the origins, mechanisms, and results of both mutations (replication-dependent ARC genetic changes) and VGC’s (non-ARC genetic changes) will improve the quality of biological understanding. Colby and Williams (1995) make the statement, “taking these kinds of mutants into account may therefore be necessary to produce more accurate models of bacterial genome evolution.” Clearly, we are observing two different categories of events. These differences require terminology fit to distinguish the processes taking place. This would also distinguish between the mechanisms and results of each kind of change.

Finally, Hall (1990) states, “Because the randomness of spontaneous mutations forms such a basic part of our view of biological processes, most of us may be more comfortable with an underlying random mechanism than with a directed one. We should be cautious, however, about rejecting the notion of ‘directed’ mutations simply because it makes us more comfortable to do so,” (Hall 1990). This is especially true when considering that these “directed mutations” do not appear to be random mutations at all, having their origins firmly grounded in completely different genetic mechanisms.

Acknowledgments

I wish to acknowledge and thank Dr. Jerry Bergman, as well as several other anonymous contributors, for their insight, suggestions, and other contributions to this paper. Their assistance has proven invaluable to its production.

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This paper was written on 5/12/2011 and I was never able to get it published through a mainstream science journal, the reason usually cited that it would not contribute anything to mainstream scientific view on the subject matter. I disagree, as well as my peers whom I had review this paper. Therefore, I am “publishing” it here on my blog, that it may make some kind of impact on those who should come across it in their research. Dave Schoch, 10/31/2012.

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Passages of Scripture that answers the question: Can someone who has received salvation still end up in Hell and eventually the Lake of Fire?”

A word of caution as we enter into this discussion:  Calvinism has become a world view, just like those enamored with the evolutionary world view. What does that mean to us here? Very simply, those who ascribe to Calvinistic doctrines (which OSAS originates from) have had a pair of “Calvin rose-colored glasses” foisted upon their faces, covering their eyes, and automatically coloring everything that they see in Scripture. If you do not ascribe to Calvinistic beliefs then half the battle is already yours – but if you do, then you will find it impossible to understand what you are about to read unless you “empty your cup” and come to this study with the primary thought that you just might be wrong in what you have been taught in the past by someone else.

If you are not willing to look at what is presented here with a mind set upon truth-seeking, rather than coming here with the intent to defend your bias, then you might as well not even start this 100 page study, because you will only be wasting your time. However, if you can lay aside your bias, which you will have to do repeatedly, and not get all emotional when you read the following, then I whole-heartedly invite you to dive in…carefully consider what you are reading…and THINK about what I bring to the table here.

We all have biases, but we can also all lay them down in order to consider what is truth and what has been told to us in past indoctrination. Seeking truth should never involve anger or emotional outbursts or impassioned lashing out…because after all, IF what you have already is truth, then it cannot be overturned by the facts of Scripture, right? But, if the carefully laid out facts of Scripture demonstrate that what you currently believe is in direct contradiction to the WHOLE Word of God, then you need to amend your beliefs with what the Scriptures clearly teach. Your stand as having eternal life depends upon you knowing the truth…false doctrine takes people into eternal flames, not eternal life.

 

 

 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8 ESV)

 

For the purpose of this section dealing with OT Passages, it is important to remember Heb. 13:8 because they all have significance to the subject matter.

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For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring to Abraham what He has promised him. (Genesis 18:19 ESV)

 

Some people who are uneducated in covenants (and those who cherry pick the Scriptures for texts that only support their ideas), are either unaware or choose to ignore the fact that God told Abraham that he would receive nothing of what God had promised him in the Abrahamic covenant if he didn’t walk in obedience to Him. This point directly affects the saying that we are God’s children “by grace and faith alone” based upon Abraham’s life. Because Abraham did not receive life from God simply because he believed – if he didn’t walk in obedience to God, then he would have nothing from God. So it is with us today.

Secondly, the righteousness that Abraham received from God just because he believed was not saving righteousness as Reformed theology teaches. That righteousness was given to him so that he could enter into God’s presence to be able to engage Him in personal relationship. There is a difference between legal righteousness, and personal righteousness, which Reformed theology ignores on one hand, and does its best to cover up on the other. Legal righteousness is given so that our personal righteousness is acceptable to God, and when we do not practice what has been given to us, God ceases to impute it to us. This is observed more readily in the NT Scriptures, which we will get to later.

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Like the nations that the LORD makes to perish before you, so shall you perish, because you would not obey the voice of the LORD your God. (Deuteronomy 8:20 ESV)

 

This verse is quite clear, and remember, He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The mandate to walk in obedience to God for life has never changed; so as it was in the OT, so it still is today in the NT. The only way to get around this (or so some people think) is to ignore the passages that make a direct link between obedience and eternal life.

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loving the LORD your God, obeying His voice and holding fast to Him, for He is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.” (Deuteronomy 30:20 ESV)

 

Just as the NT Scriptures tell us that Christ is our life (meaning spiritual life), so the OT Scriptures tell us that God is our life – our spiritual life. This is because spiritual life has always been mediated upon union with God (abiding in Him), and the only way one remains in union with God is by walking in obedience to Him.

 

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Now the sons of Eli were worthless men. They did not know the LORD. (I Samuel 2:12 ESV)

 

Another aspect of having eternal life, both in the Old and New covenants, is that a person comes to know God/Christ. Just as in the OT, so it is in the NT, that if a person does not know God, he is useless for anything to God. Knowing God means that a person is in personal relationship with God and is walking in obedience to Him. If a person does not know God/Christ, then God does not know him, and that person does not have eternal life. When it comes to eternal life, it is not so much what you know, as it is a matter of who you know…and if a person does not know God, then he does not belong to Him.

 

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And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve Him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. If you seek Him, He will be found by you, but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever. (I Chronicles 28:9 ESV)

 

I think this verse says it all: either we engage God in personal relationship and come to know Him and walk in obedience to Him, serving Him…or we forsake Him. And if we forsake Him, He will ratify our mindset and cut us off and cast us away.

 

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And You warned them in order to turn them back to Your law. Yet they acted presumptuously and did not obey Your commandments, but sinned against Your rules, which if a person does them, he shall live, and they turned a stubborn shoulder and stiffened their neck and would not obey. (Nehemiah 9:29 ESV)

 

The main idea behind this passage is repeated several times in the OT as well as in the NT by Paul. The idea is that a person will have spiritual life only if he is walking in obedience to God.

 

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For You bless the righteous, O LORD; You cover him with favor as with a shield. (Psalms 5:12 ESV)

 

This verse speaks to the Scriptural fact that those who practice righteousness are those who God imputes His favor to. This specifically intimates that God gives the imputed righteousness of Christ to those who walk in obedience to Him in both righteousness and holiness. Those who do not practice righteousness, right down to today under the New Covenant, are not of God, do not have the imputed righteousness of Christ, and do not have eternal life. They are only deceiving themselves into thinking that they do.

 

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For the LORD is righteous; He loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold His face. (Psalms 11:7 ESV)

 

Contrary to what many teach these days, when the Scripture says that “the upright shall behold His face,” it does not entail the imputed righteousness of God – it speaks directly to the point that the upright man is the man who is walking in, and practicing, righteousness. Nothing has changed in that respect between the Old and New covenants.

The word for “upright” here is yasar, meaning a person who practices what is right in God’s eyes, rather than doing what is right in his own eyes.

 

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Oh, continue Your steadfast love to those who know you, and Your righteousness to the upright of heart! (Psalms 36:10 ESV)

 

First, the term “steadfast love” is a covenant term (hesed), implying covenant faithfulness; in other words, here the Psalmist says that God will continue to give His covenant faithfulness (upholding His promises) to those who are walking with Him and know Him. This is the same as it is today.

Secondly, he says that God will continue to give His imputed righteousness to those who are “upright,” which is the same word (yasar) as above. Again, saying that God imputes His righteousness to those who practice walking in righteousness…and if a person ceases to practice righteousness then God no longer imputes His righteousness to that person.

We find this same teaching in the NT.

 

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Surely the righteous shall give thanks to Your name; the upright shall dwell in Your presence. (Psalms 140:13 ESV)

 

First, the word used here translated as “upright” is the same word yasar that we have looked at previously, meaning one who practices what is right in God’s eyes – righteousness. Being called “the upright” does NOT intend the person is upright because he is receiving the imputed righteousness of God by faith; rather the word specifically intends that the person is upright because he is walking in righteousness (obedience to God).

Second, the verse says specifically that those who are walking in righteousness to God will be those who will dwell in His presence, not only today but in eternity.

 

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Treasures gained by wickedness do not profit, but righteousness delivers from death. (Proverbs 10:2 ESV)

Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death. (Proverbs 11:4 ESV)

 

First, both of these passages say the same thing, namely that “righteousness delivers from death,” intending spiritual death.

Second, the word translated as “righteousness” in both passages is sedaqah, meaning righteousness, blameless conduct, right actions and right attitudes as expected from God from His people. Thus, the meaning is not the imputed righteousness of God that He gives to people because of their faith and trust in Him, but rather those people’s righteous actions – doing what is right in His eyes.

 

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The upright are delivered because of their righteous actions, but the treacherous are taken captive by their lust. (Proverbs 11:6 ESV)

 

First, “upright” is the word yasar, meaning one who practices what is right in God’s eyes – righteousness.

Second, “righteous” is the word sedaqah, meaning righteousness, blameless conduct, right actions and right attitudes as expected from God from His people.

Third, the upright are “upright” because of their righteous actions, because they do what is right in God’s eyes, and because of their actions, they are delivered from spiritual death.

 

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Whoever is steadfast in righteousness will live, but he who pursues evil will die. (Proverbs 11:19 ESV)

 

First, the word here translated as “steadfast” is radap, which actually means to pursue, to chase after. Those who pursue righteousness will live.

Second, the word translated as “righteousness” is sedaqah again, meaning righteousness, blameless conduct, right actions and right attitudes as expected from God from His people.

Those who pursue walking and practicing a lifestyle of doing what is right in God’s eyes, will live. This is as much speaking about physical life as it is about spiritual life.

 

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Fools mock at the guilt offering, but the upright enjoy acceptance. (Proverbs 14:9 ESV)

 

First, the word for “upright” here is yasar again, meaning one who practices what is right in God’s eyes – righteousness.

Second, the word translated as “acceptance” is rason, meaning either pleasure, delight, desire, will, favor, or in this context, acceptance by God.

We find the same teaching in the NT Scriptures – that those who practice righteousness are accepted by God, while those who do not practice righteousness (obedience to God) are rejected, regardless of the fact that they may have been saved and born again.

 

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But this command I gave them: ‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people. And walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.’ (Jeremiah 7:23 ESV)

 

The sentiment in this passage is found all throughout the OT. God repeatedly tells Israel that those who obey Him are His people, and in return He will be their God.

This is also found in the NT…the Scriptures repeatedly tell us that we are God’s children if we are practicing living a lifestyle of obedience to Him, and that if we do not, if one ceases to walk in obedience to God, then he is cut off and rejected.

What makes a Christian a Christian, is not what we believe (as so many in Reformed theology try to make us believe contrary to what the Scriptures teach), what makes a person a child of God is walking in obedience to Him. This is why Jesus told the Pharisees in John 8 that their father was the devil – because they walked in obedience to his desires, not God’s. your spiritual father is whoever you are walking in obedience to: God, or yourself (which is really satan).

 

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even if Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, as I live, declares the Lord GOD, they would deliver neither son nor daughter. They would deliver but their own lives by their righteousness. (Ezekiel 14:20 ESV)

 

This is God speaking. The word for “righteousness” is sedaqah again, and here God is telling us that people deliver themselves by walking in what is right in God’s eyes.

Because of the habit of Reformed theology to overinflate and blow out of proportion their ideology on the sovereignty of God (that He has to be in control of all things, even what pair of socks and underwear that you put on this morning, etc.), it has been taught to the church now for over 500 years that man has nothing to do with either receiving salvation, or retaining their stand as having eternal life – and this is not found in the Scriptures anywhere.

God has made it possible for anyone to come to Him (Titus 2:11  “Because the loving-kindness of God has appeared, making salvation possible for all people.”), but it is still our choice to do so. In a way, we take what God has provided, and we save ourselves, so to speak. God holds the gift of salvation out to us in His own hand, but we have to reach out and receive it to ourselves.

This is no different from someone setting a gift down on the table in front of us, because we still have to reach out and take possession of it. We take that possession…the gift is not ours until we pick it up and apply it to our lives. This passage exemplifies the fact that we do play a part in retaining (or maintaining) our stand as having eternal life, and that is through walking in obedience to God by practicing righteousness – what is right in His eyes.

 

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5  “If a man is righteous and does what is just and right— 6  if he does not eat upon the mountains or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, does not defile his neighbor’s wife or approach a woman in her time of menstrual impurity, 7  does not oppress anyone, but restores to the debtor his pledge, commits no robbery, gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with a garment, 8  does not lend at interest or take any profit, withholds his hand from injustice, executes true justice between man and man, 9  walks in my statutes, and keeps my rules by acting faithfully–he is righteous; he shall surely live, declares the Lord GOD. (Ezekiel 18:5-9 ESV)

 

Here again God tells us plainly that those who walk in righteousness – that is, those who practice doing what is right in His eyes – those are the people who will live in eternity with Him. Salvation is only one aspect of this, but not the whole. Without obedience to God, salvation is useless to a person, no matter who he is or what he thinks.

 

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21  “But if a wicked person turns away from all his sins that he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is just and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 22  None of the transgressions that he has committed shall be remembered against him; for the righteousness that he has done he shall live. 23  Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord GOD, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live? 24  But when a righteous person turns away from his righteousness and does injustice and does the same abominations that the wicked person does, shall he live? None of the righteous deeds that he has done shall be remembered; for the treachery of which he is guilty and the sin he has committed, for them he shall die. (Ezekiel 18:21-24 ESV)

 

This is pretty straight forward, black and white. This is also how God holds us accountable today under the New Covenant. Nothing has changed in this respect. If the person today that received salvation in the past ceases to walk in obedience to God, and starts practicing a lifestyle of sinful behavior, then he will end up in hell.

 

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I gave them my statutes and made known to them my rules, by which, if a person does them, he shall live. (Ezekiel 20:11 ESV)

 

This verse is pretty straight forward also: God says that those who walk in obedience to Him will live (have spiritual life and attain to heaven in eternity). Does this discount grace or the atonement? No, it does not, because the purpose of the atonement is NOT to give eternal life; the purpose of atonement is so that we can be forgiven and cleansed of sin so that we can enter into the very presence of God for personal relationship. Nothing that God does for us side-steps grace, because grace is the love of God in action towards us, but grace does not sustain our position of having eternal life.

 

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But the house of Israel rebelled against me in the wilderness. They did not walk in my statutes but rejected my rules, by which, if a person does them, he shall live; and my Sabbaths they greatly profaned. “Then I said I would pour out my wrath upon them in the wilderness, to make a full end of them.” (Ezekiel 20:13 ESV)

 

Again, here we find the same message: those who walk in obedience to God will live, while those who do not walk in obedience to God, regardless of whether they have had the atonement applied to their lives (are saved from their sin), will die – both spiritually and in the Lake of Fire.

 

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But the children rebelled against me. They did not walk in my statutes and were not careful to obey my rules, by which, if a person does them, he shall live; they profaned my Sabbaths. “Then I said I would pour out my wrath upon them and spend my anger against them in the wilderness. (Ezekiel 20:21 ESV)

 

Again, here we find the same message: those who walk in obedience to God will live, while those who do not walk in obedience to God, regardless of whether they have had the atonement applied to their lives, will die – both spiritually and in the Lake of Fire.

 

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12  “And you, son of man, say to your people, The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him when he transgresses, and as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall by it when he turns from his wickedness, and the righteous shall not be able to live by his righteousness when he sins. 13  Though I say to the righteous that he shall surely live, yet if he trusts in his righteousness and does injustice, none of his righteous deeds shall be remembered, but in his injustice that he has done he shall die. 14  Again, though I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ yet if he turns from his sin and does what is just and right, 15  if the wicked restores the pledge, gives back what he has taken by robbery, and walks in the statutes of life, not doing injustice, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 16  None of the sins that he has committed shall be remembered against him. He has done what is just and right; he shall surely live. 17  “Yet your people say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just,’ when it is their own way that is not just. 18  When the righteous turns from his righteousness and does injustice, he shall die for it. 19  And when the wicked turns from his wickedness and does what is just and right, he shall live because of this. (Ezekiel 33:12-19 ESV)

 

Verses 13 and 18 are the key points here; if the person who was saved and walking in righteousness ceases to do so, and begins practicing sinful behavior, then he has lost his station as having eternal life and will die in sin. He will end up in the Lake of Fire in the end, for the rest of eternity.

God continues and detracts those who try to teach trust in their own self-righteousness in verse 13; if they trust that their righteousness is why God will let them into heaven, and then does injustice, he deceives himself and he will die spiritually and end up in eternal flames. What God is saying here, is that His righteousness that He gives to us is so that we can have relationship with Him, we cannot work our way to heaven. The righteousness that we do is only acceptable as long as we remain abiding in Him.

 

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Behold, the person lifted up in pride is not upright: but the righteous who conform to God’s standard will live because of his faithful obedience. (Habakkuk 2:4 ESV)

 

This passage is often quoted in the NT Scriptures, but every time it is quoted it is re-worded so that it does not say the same as it is here. This is not the doing of the NT writers, but rather of those doing the translation work.

God is speaking, and He says that the righteous person is the one who conforms to God’s standards of righteousness and holiness. The word for “righteous” is saddyq, which means that the saddyq person is one who is conforming his life to the standard which God has laid out for us to walk in and follow. The word is used to convey the ideal concept of those who walk in obedience to the standard of right conduct which God has delivered to men to follow…and that standard is faithful obedience to His way.

The text states that the righteous man will live (eternal life) because he walks in faithful obedience to God and His law. This is the meaning every time the passage is quoted in the NT. It has impact upon the subject matter (eternal life) because even if one was saved in the past, if that person ceases to walk in conformity to God’s standard of righteousness, then he also forfeits his station as having eternal life.

 

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Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him. (Malachi 3:18 ESV)

 

This passage also impacts the subject matter of eternal life, because the righteous person (saddyq) serves God (walks in obedience to Him) and thus will have life; while the wicked person is one who does not serve God, hence does not walk in obedience to Him.

Whether a person was saved in the past or not, if he is not walking in obedience to God then he is not righteous, and he will end up in eternal fire.

 

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Before we begin looking at the passages in the NT addressing eternal life and whether or not a saved person can walk away from God and end up in hell / the Lake of Fire, we must first impart the understanding that unconditional eternal security is based entirely upon a false teaching regarding the Sovereignty of God. One reason why it is so hard for people to come out of this false doctrine, is that it is so deeply ingrained within the western church as a mode of thinking.

Reformed theology has become a world view, every bit as false as the evolutionary world view is, and when it becomes so ingrained in people’s minds, everything is seen through that deceptive lens, just like in evolutionary theory. In the Reformed person’s eyes, every fact of Scripture takes on the Reformed world view, just as the evolutionist sees every fact of nature through the deceptive lens of evolution. Reformed persons, just like evolutionists, wear their own brand of “rose-colored glasses” that colors all the world in their perspectives color, rather than seeing clearly.

The only way to curb this fantasy world of Reformed theology, is for one to completely “empty his cup” from all that he has learned, eradicate the Reformed world view from his mind, so that he can then see clearly what the Scriptures say. Just as the false teachings of evolutionary theory all stand upon the false doctrine of Naturalism (which encompasses both true facts of nature, as well as unwarranted and false assumptions), so, too, the false teachings of Reformed theology all stand upon the false doctrine of their version of the Sovereignty of God (which encompasses both true facts of Scripture, as well as unwarranted and false assumptions).

Once the false and unwarranted assumptions within God’s Sovereignty are completely dealt with, it is easier for the student of the Bible to come to doctrinal completeness in the Scriptures, and the Scriptures no longer appear to contradict one another. The first three key rules of Biblical interpretation are: (1) God does not contradict Himself in His Word, not ever, not even once; therefore, all of Scripture is in harmony when it is correctly interpreted. And (2) that we must take any subject that we are studying in the Scriptures topically, bring all of the passages that deal with that subject matter together and study them, every one that touches upon the subject matter or doctrine, even those that do so indirectly. And (3) that the Scriptures must be studied within its historical / cultural context, specifically, through the sieve of covenant.

If these three basic tenets of Biblical interpretation are not followed, then the intended meaning of the Spirit of God in the texts we study will be skewed to one degree or another. That means, in the very least, we will be incorrect in our conclusions…and at the most, we will be found to be teaching false doctrines that lead people away from God, rather than closer to Him.

As ministers especially, who have the lives of those sitting under us, we have a great responsibility to ensure that what we believe is accurate. I, for one, do not want to stand before God on judgment day and hear Him say to me that I have the blood of my congregation upon my hands because I was not responsible enough to ensure what I was teaching them was Biblical truth.

 

Passages to keep in mind during your study of these texts:

 

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)

I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, so that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. (I Corinthians 4:6 ESV)

Everyone who goes further than what the Scriptures saydoes not abide in the teaching of Christ, and does not have GodWhoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. (II John 1:9 ESV)

And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. (II Peter 3:15-16 ESV)

 

Some of the following passages and texts of Scripture have been translated according to the completeness of the Greek with its grammar when the ESV has failed to do so. Therefore, some of them will read a little differently than what you are used to. Any such translational changes can be readily verified by a number of sources on the internet (but only when they take into consideration the grammar of the Greek; definitional dictionaries alone – such as Strong’s Concordance – will not work because it does not take into account the grammar, and the grammar in Greek sometimes changes the meaning of a word from its strict dictionary definition).

 

Part I.  Passages that directly state a saved person can still end up in eternal flames:

 

Whoever continuously believes in the Son has eternal life; but whoever does not continually walk in obedience to the Son will not come to the consummation of eternal life, because the wrath of God remains upon him. (John 3:36 ESV)

 

First, the words “believe” and “obey” in the Greek are in the Present Active Participle, meaning that the action of the verb is performed continuously or repeatedly, depending upon the context.

Second, John the Baptist is quite clear, one may have eternal life because he believes, but if he does not walk in obedience to Christ, he will never come to the consummation of eternal life in heaven.

Third, salvation is not based upon obedience – but salvation and eternal life are two entirely different things. Eternal life is based upon obedience, which is why it is conditional.

Fourth, some versions of the Bible say, “but whoever does not believe in the Son will not have life,” and this is a gross mishandling of the Greek. The word here is apeitheo, which can mean not to allow oneself to be persuaded, not believe, to disbelieve, or to be disobedient. In the Greek, as we touched upon earlier, the grammar plays a large part in the meaning of words. Here the word apeitheo is found with the Dative case of person, which makes its meaning that of being disobedient to the Son.

Those translations which say “do not believe” are not to be trusted, because the translators either do not know enough about the Greek language in order to do correct and accurate translation, or they purposely mistranslated the text in accord with their bias. In either case, they will suffer greatly in the next life for tampering with the Word of God to make it say what they want it to say, rather than what it actually states.

Here John gives us the clear picture (along with John 3:15-16) that believing is not the only prerequisite to attaining heaven, it is only the first condition, not the one and only condition. A person can believe in Christ until the cows come home, but if he is not walking in obedience to God, then he received salvation for nothing…he has received the grace of God in vain.

 

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Because if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:14-15 ESV)

 

This passage impacts one’s standing as having eternal life or not, even if he has believed and received salvation. Because Jesus says clearly, that if you do not forgive others when they sin against you, then He will not forgive your sin any longer. The saved person has his past sins forgiven, but if he begins to harbor unforgiveness towards people, God will cease to forgive him of his sins. Since sin is what keeps us out of heaven, even the saved person who ceases to forgive can end up with sin in his life, thus sending him to the Lake of Fire.

 

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“Not everyone who calls Me ‘Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of My Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and cast out demons in Your name, and do many mighty works in Your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Matthew 7:21-23 ESV)

 

Jesus is quite clear here, even if a person received salvation in the past, making Him their Lord, if they do not walk in obedience to God then they will never enter into the kingdom of God, the kingdom of heaven.

Some say that those calling Him “Lord” does not mean that they were saved, but this is great error, which is why I quote three verses instead of only verse 21. Verse 22 contains those who are calling Jesus “Lord,” and they have performed miracles in Christ’s name. The ONLY people who can do miracles in Christ’s name are those who are abiding in the New Covenant, because that is where the authority and power to be able to do those works come from. If a person is in the New Covenant of Christ, then they were saved and walking in obedience to Him at one time in their lives.

However, there is a third element that without which, no man will enter into heaven – and that is observed in verse 23… “I never knew you…” As we will see later when we get to John 17:3, the whole purpose for being given eternal life in the first place, is so that we can enter into God’s presence and engage Him in personal relationship, coming to know Him as He comes to know us. Those in verse 21-22 who were in covenant relationship with God, failed to engage Him in personal relationship…they failed to use eternal life for what it was given for.

Although they walked with God for a while, they neglected to spend time with Him. In order to get into heaven, the final condition is that you know Jesus/God personally so that He knows you. If He does not know you, then even though you received salvation in the past, and even walked in obedience to Him, you will be cast into the Lake of Fire.

 

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As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who listens to the Word in obedience, and immediately receives it with joy; however, he does not pursue the Word so as to root himself down into it, he endures for a while, but when suffering or persecution comes because of the Word, he immediately stumbles and falls away. (Matthew 13:20-21 ESV)

 

First, “listens to the Word in obedience” – the word translated here as “listens” is akouo, in this context meaning one who is attentively listening to, and obeying, what he had listened to. The word for “falls away” is skandalizo, and in the Passive voice (which it is used as here) it takes on the meaning of to be led astray from truth, or to fall away from practicing the truth.

Jesus says that these who are the rocky ground did believe, receiving the Word with joy, and walked in obedience to what they heard…for a while. They were saved, whereas Reformed theology directly denies the meaning of the Greek here. They were saved, but then later they fell away from the truth, they fell away from practicing the truth, directly implying that they were then on their way to the Lake of Fire.

 

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And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. (Matthew 24:10-11 ESV)

 

First, again, the word translated as “fall away” in verse 10 is skandalizo, also in the Passive voice, giving it the meaning of falling away from practicing the truth. In verse 11 the word translated as “lead astray” is planao, and here it is in the Active voice, giving it the meaning that the person wandered away from the truth, or was led astray, was misled into what is false, was deceived by another. In both cases, what Jesus is saying is that those who were once following Him will cease to do so. If a person is no longer walking in obedience to God/Christ, then that person will not make it to the consummation of eternal life in heaven.

 

***

 

1 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7 Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. 11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But He answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, you are not related to Me, where do you come from?’” (Matthew 25:1-12 ESV)

 

Most translations read, “I do not know you” – that is a direct translation of the words in Greek, but the metaphorical meaning has been ignored. In Greek, combinations of words can change the meaning of the main verb, in this case the verb for “know” is oida, which is preceded by the particle ouk (not). When the wording is such (ouk oida), the verb takes on a relational meaning. The phrase is more accurately translated as saying, “You are not related to Me.”

The direct correlation here is found in Christ’s answer to the one who told Him that His mother and brothers were outside waiting for Him, to speak to Him in Matthew 12:50 “For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.” If one is not walking in obedience to God, regardless of whether he had at one time in the past been saved from his sin, then he is not in relationship with Jesus, and that being the case, he will be found outside the door when it is shut.

 

***

And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. (Luke 8:13 ESV)

 

The word translated here as “received” is the word dechomai, which means “to accept an offer, deliberately and readily,” “to take to oneself what is presented or brought by another,” “to receive.” According to the grammar of the text, in this case the direct implication is that those who heard the Word approved of it, embraced it, and followed it in obedience.

This means that these were saved at one point in their lives, and not just “near to it” as some teach. The words “fall away” are translated from the word aphistemi, which can mean “to put away,” “remove,” “to withdraw, remove oneself, forsake, desert, cease from.” Here it takes on the last five meanings.

This passage confirms that one can have been saved in the past and yet fall away from Christ and end up in the Lake of Fire in eternity.

 

***

And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who listen with intent to obey, but as they go on their way they are choked by the anxieties, material goods, and pleasures of life, and their fruit is overpowered and does not mature to perfection. (Luke 8:14 ESV)

 

First, “listen to with intent to obey” – the word translated here is akouo, in this context meaning one who is “attentively listening to, and obeying,” what he had listened to. This directly implies that such were saved.

Second, the word here is sumpnigo, meaning “to choke out, to suffocate.” Figuratively, it takes on the meaning of “to overpower” or “to crowd out.”

Third, “fruit to perfection” is from the word telesphoreo, which means “to bear fruit to perfection/ripeness.” In other words, they bore fruit but that fruit did not last long enough to become ripe. In interpreting this, one must consider the exalted Lord’s words to the church of Sardis in Rev. 3:2, “I have not found your works to be complete in the sight of God,” where the word for “complete” (pleroo) means “to make perfect,” “to fully accomplish completely.”

 

 

***

But if that servant says to himself, ‘My Master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, the Master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect Him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unbelievers. (Luke 12:45-46 ESV)

 

First, “unbelievers” = some translations use the word “unfaithful” which is deceptive, in making us think that the “unfaithful” were Christians who didn’t walk in obedience to Christ. However, the word here is apistos (a, meaning “without” and pistos, meaning “believe”) which can mean “unbeliever” or “not worthy of confidence, untrustworthy” depending upon how it is used in context.

Here it means “unbelievers,” which tells us that the wicked servant in Christ’s parable was a believer because He is contrasting him with unbelievers. If he was not a believer, then he would already be heading to the place where the other unbelievers were. The fact that He says that the servant would be placed with the unbelievers tells us that the servant was at one time saved and a believer.

In the parallel to this saying in Matthew (Mat. 24:46-51), he uses the word hupokrites (hypocrite), one who is a pretender, a counterfeit Christian…one who is not a Christian. And in that recording, as well as here (but it is more clearly discerned in Matthew’s account than in Luke’s), the context is found in Jesus’ teachings on the last days. In the context, the servant is (or rather, was) a Christian who fell away, even though it appears that he still believed that he was a Christian (Jesus still called him a servant, even though he was practicing sinful behavior, being from the person’s point of view, not Christ’s point of view).

 

 

***

22 Jesus went on His way through towns and villages, teaching and journeying toward Jerusalem. 23 And someone said to Him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And He said to them, 24 “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25 When once the Master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then He will answer you, ‘You are not related to Me, where do you come from?’ 26 Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.’ 27 But He will say, ‘I tell you, You are not related to Me, where do you come from? Depart from Me, all you workers of evil!’” (Luke 13:22-27 ESV)

 

In verses 25 and 27 the ESV renders the phrase “You are not related to Me” as “I do not know where you come from.” That is a direct translation of the words in Greek according to strict dictionary definition, but the metaphorical implied meaning here has been ignored. In Greek, combinations of words can change the meaning of the main verb, in this case the verb for “know” is oida, which is preceded by the particle ouk (not). When the wording is such (ouk oida), the verb takes on a relational meaning.

The phrase is more accurately translated as saying, “You are not related to Me.” The direct correlation here is found in Christ’s answer to the one who told Him that His mother and brothers were outside waiting for Him, to speak to Him:  Matthew 12:50 “For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.” If one is not walking in obedience to God, regardless of whether he had at one time in the past been saved from his sin, then he is not in relationship with Jesus, and that being the case, he will be found outside the door when it is shut.

 

 

***

“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he will not have the power to be My disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after Me, he will not have the power to be My disciple.” (Luke 14:26-27 ESV)

So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has, he will not have the power to be My disciple. (Luke 14:33 ESV)

 

Most translations render the last part of the text as, “cannot be My disciple,” but it is more accurately rendered as, “will not have the power to be My disciple,” because of the definition of the word there for “cannot” (dunamai). Dunamai means “to be able to” or “to have power to,” and in this case it is preceded by the word “ou” (not). Together, the phrase means that one is not able to do something, or does not have the power to do something.

In this text, Jesus is teaching us that unless we crucify ourselves to all else but Him, in order to walk in obedience to Him, then we will not have the power to be able to walk in obedience to His teachings – in which case, it will be impossible for one to be His disciple, because a disciple practices what his master tells him to do.

The direct implication here is that if one does not have the power to walk in the teachings and commandments of Christ, he will end up falling away from Christ. In such cases, the person received the grace and salvation that is in Christ, but then fell away from that grace, salvation, and eternal life.

 

 

***

I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not repeatedly bear fruit, He cuts off, and every branch that does repeatedly bears fruit He purifies, that it may bear more fruit. (John 15:1-2 ESV)

 

The word translated as “cuts off” in verse 2 (speaking of the action of the Father as the vinedresser) is the word airo, which basically means “to take up, to lift up, to raise,” or “to carry away, meaning to take away, to remove.”  Used as it is in this case, it takes on the meaning of “to take away, remove, to cut off” with the idea of removing with violent and authoritative intent.

Notice that it is the Father who is doing the cutting off and removing, whereas Jesus says in John 6 that He Himself will never reject a person that comes to Him. He is not the one doing the rejecting here…it is God, therefore this verse does not contradict Jesus’ words in John 6.

 

 

***

“‘For this My son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate… It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’” (Luke 15:24, 32 ESV)

 

Contrary to Reformed theology’s take on this parable, the Father says plainly and very clearly that the son was dead (obviously implying spiritual death). In the context of the entire chapter, a sheep was in the fold but then wandered off…the coin was in the old woman’s possession, but then she lost it…the father had a son, but then he left the father. Each parable references what was once possessed by God but then wandered away, was lost, died.

In the parable, God is the father, His sons are His covenant children, and one of them decides to leave the Father and go do his own thing. There are other Reformed arguments on this passage, but we will address them later.

 

 

***

If anyone does not remain abiding in Me, he is rejected, cut off, and thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered together, thrown into the fire, and burned. (John 15:6 ESV)

 

First, “he is rejected, cut off, and thrown away” – from the word “ballo,” meaning “to cast off, to cut off, to bring, to carry, to throw.” The meaning of this word is one that is directly affected by other words immediately surrounding it, in this case, it is followed by the adverb “exo,” which changes the meaning to that of “to throw away, to reject.”

Christ makes this very clear – those who were at one time abiding in Him, who do not continue to remain in Him, are rejected, cut off, and thrown away. Thus, a man who was at one time “born again” can most definitely be cast into hell rather than making it to the consummation of eternal life in heaven.

 

 

***

I have said all of these things to you to prevent you from going astray and rejecting Me. (John 16:1 ESV)

 

First, “going astray and rejecting Me” – from the word skandalizo, which means “to cause to stumble,” “to fall away,” “to offend,” “to vex.” When it is in the Passive voice and with the Accusative of person, it can mean to be so offended in someone that you reject them. Here it is only in the Passive, taking on the meaning of “to be led astray, to fall away from the truth.”

 

 

***

Do you suppose, O man – you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself – that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. (Romans 2:3-5 ESV)

 

Remember that here Paul is talking to Christians, and he is basically telling them that if they don’t get their act together in this respect, that even though they have been saved, they will still end up in hell. He is addressing born again believers and telling them that even they can “store up wrath” for themselves for the day of judgment.

The passage also decries Reformed theology’s claim that once saved a person no longer has to fear the wrath of God.

 

***

21 Because they came to know God, but did not glorify Him nor give Him thanks, they made themselves worthless with contentious thoughts, and darkened the understanding of their hearts; 22 claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God gave them up to the lusts of their hearts unto impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth of God for a lie and they worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is worthy of praise forever. Amen. 26 Because of this, God gave them up unto the power of their vile lusts: and because their women exchanged the natural use of sexual intercourse into that which is unnatural; 27 and in like manner, also the men left the natural sexual place of the woman, and burned in their lust one toward another, men with men doing obscene things and inevitably receiving in themselves the natural consequences of their perversion. 28 And since they did not see fit to continue in personal relationship with God, He gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. (Romans 1:21-28 ESV)

 

First, “they came to know God” – the word for “know” in this verse is “ginosko,” which means “to know, in a beginning or completed sense, to come to know, to gain or receive a knowledge of.” Here it is used in the Accusative of person (God), giving it the meaning that they knew God in a completed sense. The point is…they knew Him…which intimates that they were saved at one point in their lives. Paul here addresses believers who have fallen away, he is not addressing lost pagans who were never saved.

Second, “gave them up” – from the word paradidomi, meaning “to deliver over to, to give up to the power of.” In this instance, it carries with it the idea of being given over to, or up to, some things as a ratification of the person’s will, for punishment that eventually leads to death.

Third, “see fit” = dokimazo, meaning to try (test) and approve, to discern, to distinguish, and to approve. “to continue in personal relationship with” = echo, meaning to have, to hold, implying continued possession of something; this word is in the Present Active Infinitive, giving it the meaning that they no longer approved of continuing with God, they no longer desired to continue walking with God, or acknowledging Him. This is further elucidated upon by the word epignosis (know, knowledge) which implies personal relationship with the thing known. Epignosis lays claim to acquiring knowledge of something or someone through personal involvement, and demonstrates a relationship between the one knowing and what is known. Further, epignosis here is in the noun form, meaning “obedient knowledge of God” (TDNT Vol. 1, pg. 706) and directly corresponds to ginosko (know) of verse 21 above (TDNT Vol. 1, pg. 707).

In other words, these people whom Paul writes about were once saved, they once walked with God and came to know God through personal relationship and involvement with Him, but later returned to the world, most likely like Demas did, because he got involved in worldly things and came to love the world more than he loved God (Col. 4:14; Philemon 1:24; II Tim. 4:10).

 

***

For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (Romans 8:13 ESV)

 

Again, here Paul is addressing Christians, those who have been saved and born again, and he says that if they continue to walk in the flesh, they will die and end up in eternal flames.

 

***

For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will He spare you. Behold, therefore, the kindness and severing action of God: indeed, upon those who fell, He cut them off, but upon you, the kindness of God – if you continue abiding in Him. Otherwise you too will be cut off. (Romans 11:21-22 ESV)

 

First, “severing action” – this is where translator’s biases come into play in their translations; the word the ESV translates as “severity” is apotomia, but it does not mean severity. Apotomia means either “a cutting off” or “severing from something.” “cut off” is from the word ekkopto, which means to cut off, as a branch is from a tree. Again, not only Paul’s words, but the entire context of the passage indicates that Paul is telling Christians – those who have been saved in the past – that if they fail to continue walking with the Lord on His terms, that they, too, will be “cut off” just like the unbelieving Jews had been cut off, directly implying that they will end up in hell.

 

 

***

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (I Corinthians 6:9-11 ESV)

 

The “unrighteous” in verse 9 is from the word adikos, meaning those whose behavior is unrighteous. It does not refer to those who have not been saved and have not had the imputed righteousness of Christ put to their account – rather, it speaks of those who have the righteousness of Christ to their account, but who are not walking in God’s commandment to practice righteousness.

In verse 11 we read the words, “you were washed…you were sanctified…” where the word “were” is translated from the Imperfect Active Indicative, meaning that they were saved at one time in the past, but that Paul is in doubt as to whether they are still washed, sanctified, justified, saved…

 

 

***

So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I might not be rejected and cast away. (I Corinthians 9:26-27 ESV)

 

“rejected and cast away” – from adokimos, meaning unapproved, unworthy, worthless, disapproved, rejected and cast away. The ESV translates adokimos as “disqualified,” which basically means disqualified to have eternal life, disqualified for attaining heaven.

 

 

***

1 For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 and all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ5 Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. 6 Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. (I Corinthians 10:1-6 ESV)

 

Remember verse 10 that states these things are examples for us today – here Paul states that those who came out of Egypt under Moses were saved, they partook of Christ the Rock…yet many of them were destroyed because of their disobedience.

Paul is making a direct correlation between them and us today…that even though we might have been saved in the past through partaking of Christ, if we continue or return to worldly, sinful, unrighteous behavior, we too will end up in eternal flames.

 

 

***

Therefore, let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. (I Corinthians 10:12 ESV)

 

“fall” – from the word pipto, metaphorically meaning to perish in spiritual or physical death. It is written in the Subjunctive mood, giving it the meaning that falling is possible, which is where the word “lest” comes from.

 

***

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you – unless you believed in vain. (I Corinthians 15:1-2 ESV)

 

If I wash my car and then get splattered by a flock of birds, then I washed my car in vain. If someone believed in Christ and followed through unto salvation, how would his faith be counted as being in vain? The ONLY way for that to happen would be if he believed but did not follow through by walking in obedience to God, thereby making his faith count for nothing.

 

 

***

Working together with Him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. (II Corinthians 6:1 ESV)

 

If a person received the grace of God in vain, it means that they got saved for nothing. In other words, Paul is saying don’t get saved, receiving the grace of God that is in Christ, and then cease to remain abiding in Christ. Because if one ceases to remain abiding in Christ, then he received salvation for nothing, it did him no good.

 

 

***

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are still in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? Indeed, unless you are disapproved, rejected, and cast away! (II Corinthians 13:5 ESV)

 

First, “disapproved, rejected, cast away” from the word adokimos which means unapproved, unworthy, worthless, disapproved, rejected, and cast away. Secondly, Christ lives within us if we are living in Him (John 14:23; I John 3:23-24); and if we cease to walk in obedience to Him so as to dwell within Him, then He no longer dwells within us. Paul is telling the Corinthian church to examine themselves to see if they are still abiding in Christ, walking in obedience to Him, because if they are not, then they have been rejected…but they can always come back to God.

 

 

***

You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. (Galatians 5:4 ESV)

 

First, “fallen away” comes from the word ekpipto, basically meaning to fall off, to fall from, to fall away. In the Genitive case (as it is in this verse) it takes on the figurative meaning of falling from any state or condition – to lose one’s part or interest in that state or condition. Here Paul is saying that those in Galatia who received circumcision had fallen from the state of having grace, because grace comes through Christ the New Covenant and they had chosen to live under the Old Covenant.

 

***

3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. (Ephesians 5:3-6 ESV)

 

Here, once again, Paul is addressing believers, the saved of the church in Galatia, and he says that if they practice unrighteous behavior, they will end up forfeiting eternal life, they will not be counted worthy of attaining to the consummation of eternal life in heaven.

 

 

***

18 This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 holding the articles and doctrines of the Faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, (I Timothy 1:18-19 ESV)

 

First, “the articles and doctrines of the Faith” – the word here is pistis, which basically means “faith.” However, when pistis is used subjectively it takes on the meaning of persuasion, conviction, truth, veracity and being faithful to what one believes. But here pistis is being used objectively, which changes the meaning to the received articles and doctrines of a system of faith – in this case, Christianity.

Paul is saying that such people reject the articles of the Christian faith (“the Faith”) and in so doing, they cut themselves off from that Faith. “shipwreck of their faith” where the word translated as shipwreck is nauageo, meaning physical shipwreck or, in this case, metaphorically for cutting themselves off from the Faith of Christianity. They were once saved, because you can’t cut yourself off from something that you were never a part of. This is ratified by the context of the entire verse, particularly since they reject the truth of God that is in the gospel of the Christian faith.

 

 

***

Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, (I Timothy 4:1 ESV)

 

First, “depart” is translated from the word aphistemi, which means “to put away, to remove.” When it is used as an intransitive verb (as it is here), it takes on the expanded meaning of “to withdraw from, to remove oneself from, to forsake, desert, to cease from.” Paul says plainly that the Spirit tells him that people who were once in the Faith (Christianity) will depart from it, they will forsake and desert it, they will remove themselves and cease to walk in the Faith because they are listening to seducing spirits and demonic doctrines.

All of these words directly imply that such a person was at one time saved, because you cannot depart from something that you were never a part of.

 

 

***

But refuse to enroll younger widows, for when their passions draw them away from Christ, they desire to marry and so incur condemnation for having abandoned their former faith. (I Timothy 5:11-12 ESV)

 

This passage should be extremely easy to understand, being very black and white. Paul says that some Christian widows (that he apparently had personal knowledge of) had been drawn away from Christ and even completely “abandoned their former faith,” directly implying that they were at one time saved but had then walked away from God. You can’t get much clearer than that. He does not say that they were “pretended” Christians or anything like what Reformed theology tries to make us believe. They were at one time saved, born again, yet they walked away after a time.

 

 

***

For some have already strayed after Satan. (I Timothy 5:15 ESV)

 

“strayed” – comes from the word ektrepo, which means to turn out or away from something, to turn aside from one thing to another. Here it means that they turned aside from following Christ and started to follow after satan.

 

 

***

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. (I Timothy 6:10 ESV)

 

“wandered away” – is translated from apoplanao, which means “to lead astray, to seduce from the truth, to deceive and draw aside from the right way.” Here it is in the Passive voice, giving it the meaning that they “went astray from the truth, that they swerved from following the straight path into perdition.” This verse alone demonstrates the satanic lie of once saved always saved doctrine.

 

 

***

O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” for by professing it some have swerved from the faith. Grace be with you. (I Timothy 6:20-21 ESV)

 

“swerved” from the faith – translated from the word astocheo, meaning “to err, to deviate from, to not reach one’s goal.” Here it is used in a spiritual sense in that one deviated from the Faith (Objective), meaning that they have deviated from the articles and doctrines of the Christian faith. They were at one time saved, but had since walked away from the Faith because they gave ear to false teachings of demons and seducing spirits, just as Paul addressed in ch. 4:1.

 

 

***

if we endure, we will also reign with Him; if we deny Him, He also will deny us; if we are faithless towards Him, He does remain faithful to Himself, because He cannot deny Himself. (II Timothy 2:12-13 ESV)

 

This passage is self-explanatory, but Reformed Theology tries to tell us that because God cannot deny Himself, this means that since He wants us, He will not deny Himself what He truly wants, which flies in the face of what verse 12 CLEARLY states. Jesus Himself said on numerous occasions that if we deny Him, He WILL deny us.

Reformed theology also lies by telling us that since this verse says (in certain renditions) says that God is faithful even though we fail in faithfulness, that He will not ‘write us off’ because He is faithful to His promises. However, we must remember that God is faithful to us through covenant, and His faithfulness remains unless and until we cease to remain faithful to His covenant. While there is grace, God has drawn a line in the sand, and if we cross it, we’re done.

 

 

***

For the time is coming when they will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. (II Timothy 4:3-4 ESV)

 

In context from verse 1-4, Paul is talking to Timothy about believers, not unbelievers. He says that there will come a time when “they” (believers whom he was previously speaking about) will “turn away from listening to the truth” of which they were apparently listening to at that time. “wander off” – comes from the word ektrepo, which means “to turn out or away from something, to turn aside from one thing to another.” Here Paul says that they will turn aside from listening to the truth of God, and start listening to myths and other nonsense false teachings.

 

 

***

1 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 6 For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, 7 always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. 8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. (II Timothy 3:1-8 ESV)

 

“disqualified” regarding the faith – comes from the word adokimos, which we have seen before, meaning “unapproved, unworthy, worthless, rejected, cast away.” In the Passive voice (which it is here) it takes on the further meaning of “a reprobate,” one who was at one time in the faith but who is no longer.

 

 

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not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth. (Titus 1:14 ESV)

 

First, “turn away from” is translated from the verb apostrepho, a compound word meaning to turn away from, to excite to rebellion, to remove from, to turn away from, to reject, to forsake or desert, to defect from. The word implies that a person is in something and then turns away from it, and is no longer involved in what he once was. In this specific case, they were in the truth (Christ) but then rejected Him.

 

 

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They profess to know God, but they disown Him by their works. They are rejected and cast away, disobedient, unfit for any good work. (Titus 1:16 ESV)

 

First, “they deny Him” comes from the word arneomai, meaning to deny, refuse, reject, renounce, to retract. Used as it is in this case, it takes on the meaning of to disown. Here the ESV greatly destroys the meaning of the word adokimos (which they translate as “detestable”), because the word means unapproved, unworthy, worthless, disapproved, rejected and cast away. Used as it is here, it takes on the meaning of the last three definitions: worthless, disapproved, rejected and cast away.

 

 

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Therefore, we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we gradually drift away from it, deviating from truth into disobedience. (Hebrews 2:1 ESV)

 

“gradually drift away from it, deviating from truth into disobedience” from the word pararreo, basically meaning to slowly float or drift past, a nautical term. Figuratively, it takes on the meaning of to slip away, intending a gradual and unnoticed movement away from a certain point; to swerve or deviate from something, to fall aside into transgression and disobedience.

 

 

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Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. (Hebrews 3:12-13 ESV)

 

First, “evil” (from poneros, meaning evil, wicked, malicious, or mischievous) in this case should most likely be rendered as mischievous here, because how can someone with an evil heart believe to the point of Apollos calling them “brothers.” Mischievous in this case would mean that such a person is misbehaving – i.e., not walking in obedience to God.

Second, “unbelieving” is from the word apistia, meaning faithlessness, distrust, unbelief, lack of trust. Again, this word does not seem to fit the context of the verse…how can we call someone a Christian brother who does not believe? We really cannot. Here, apistia seems better rendered by this context as lack of trust or faithlessness (as in failing to walk faithfully in obedience to God). Someone who is not placing trust in God (for other than salvation), that lack of trust will cause doubt and lack of obedience, and will eventually lead to the person walking away from God altogether.

Third, “fall away” is from the word aphistemi, meaning to put away, remove from, withdraw from, forsake, desert, retire from, or cease from something. In this context, it is directly stated that such a one will fall away from God; and if one is not in union with God then he no longer has eternal life. Not only this, but the context explicitly states that such a person was in union with God at one time, meaning that such a person was at one time saved, born again, and walking with God (because you cannot fall away from God if you were never walking with Him).

 

 

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Strive earnestly for peace with everyone, and for the holiness, apart from which no one will see the Lord. (Hebrews 12:14 ESV)

 

This verse is exceptionally clear – those who do not walk in holiness will not see the Lord in the consummation of eternal life in heaven. The holiness here Apollos speaks of is not the imputed holiness of Christ to our account; rather, as the verse clearly states, it is the holiness that we are commanded to strive for in our daily lives. It is practical holiness, not imputed holiness.

 

 

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For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to the same quality of repentance as they experienced originally, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. (Hebrews 6:4-6 ESV)

 

This is a verse with a unique word used for “fallen away,” which Paul never used in his letters; it is the word parapipto, which means to fall aside or away, to err, to stray, to abandon what one once had. It implies deliberate acts of sin on the part of the one who, in this verse, has fallen away.

Secondly, as a side note that does not really apply to this subject matter. The phrase anakainizw  eiV  metanoia (anakainizo eis metanoia) literally means “to come to a qualitatively new repentance,” meaning that such a person who has fallen away can still return to the Lord, but such a person will not experience the same quality of repentance that they did when they first came to God and received salvation.

The verse denies the false doctrine that the saved believer cannot fall away from God, and also denies the false ideology that once a person falls away from God that he can never return to Him. Both ideologies are not supported in the Scriptures.

 

 

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You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is hatred of God? Therefore, those who are willing to be a friend of the world, makes himself an enemy of God. (James 4:4 ESV)

 

Although this should be self-explanatory, a person according to James who has been saved in the past, who comes to befriend the world, making himself an enemy of God, is the same as one who Paul says has become an enemy of the cross. John says the same thing in I John, that we cannot love both the things of the world and God at the same time. One who loves the world does not love God, because they are diametrically opposed to one another.

The word for “enemy” is echthros, meaning hostile towards, the adversary of. One who desires to be friends of the world make themselves adversaries toward God and His way of doing things, because the way of the world is – again – diametrically opposed to the way of God.

For example, one cannot befriend God on one hand, and at the same time befriend the homosexual lifestyle on the other – particularly since such a lifestyle God describes as an abomination in His sight. James is addressing born again believers because they are no longer enemies of God, they have been reconciled to God in Christ – therefore, he says that they can make themselves “an enemy of God” again by aligning themselves with the world again.

 

 

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Because if we continue to deliberately sin after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? (Hebrews 10:26-29 ESV)

 

First, the key portion of this passage that Reformed individuals deny, is that the phrase “knowledge of the truth” directly implies that such a person came to know God at one point in their life. The word for “knowledge” here is epignosis, which means a thorough participation in acquiring the knowledge that one has, because they acquired it through intimate personal relationship with the person or object they came to know. They are not people who “came close to the truth but never partook of Christ” such as what Calvinists like to claim; the word implies personal involvement and personal relationship. Thus, such persons were saved and born again at one time.

Second, the sin that they commit is not accidental (missing the mark). The word here is hekousios, meaning voluntary, intentional, deliberate, willingly. It implies that the person knew better than to commit such sin but exercised his free will and chose to engage in that sinful behavior. This is the very nature of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.

Third, “trampled underfoot” comes from the word katapateo, meaning to tread upon or trample upon. Here it is used metaphorically for treating someone (or something) with utter contempt, being considered as worthless. The contempt here is harboring the attitude that what is contemptable is not worth obeying.

Therefore, such a person that Apollos here describes was at one time saved and born again, because one cannot trample underfoot Christ if he never had Christ, and because he expressly states that such a person was sanctified at one time in the past by the blood of Christ, the blood of the New Covenant. People who stand aloof and outside of actually partaking of Christ cannot be described in such ways, and those who continue in their willful blindness and say that the persons described in this passage were never truly saved, are modern day blind Pharisees.

 

 

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Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing, (II Peter 2:15 ESV)

 

First, here Peter is addressing false prophets, false teachers, and even false pastors, who apparently were at one time saved because they have now “gone astray” from the truth. “gone astray” comes from the word planao, which means to cause to wander, to lead astray, or in the Passive voice (as it is here), to wander, to go astray; to be deceived, to be misled, to be seduced from the truth.

 

 

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My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering from the Way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. (James 5:19-20 ESV)

 

First, “wanders from the truth” – from the word planao, which means to cause to wander, to lead astray, or in the Passive voice (as it is here), to wander, to go astray; to be deceived, to be misled, to be seduced from the truth. There is no mistaking what James is saying here, because he says one can planaofrom the truth.”

Secondly, “a sinner from his wandering” – first, “sinner” is a direct inference that this person who once walked with God and was called a Christian brother, has since gone back into the world, because Christians who are walking with God are not designated in Scripture as “sinners.” Only those who engage themselves in a sinful lifestyle are so designated. “wandering” is from the word hamartolos, meaning to deviate from something, to miss the mark (sin), to err from the Way. It implies that one has ceased from trying to walk the way of truth and now practices sinful behavior.

Third, “will save his soul from death and cover a multitude of sins” is aggressive language: death here is intimated as spiritual death; therefore, the one James speaks of here is on his way to hell, even after being saved at one time. Taking into consideration the whole NT Scriptures, particularly John in I John 1:7, such a person James addresses here no longer had the application of the atonement in Christ to his life, meaning that he was no longer abiding in God. Such a person no longer has eternal life.

One other thing that must be pointed out here, you cannot refer to a simple Greek dictionary and be able to come to the understanding of the Greek because those dictionaries like Strong’s and Thayer’s do NOT give you any indications of how the grammar of the Greek affects those words and changes the nuances of their meanings. Dictionaries do not give you nuance meanings, or how the grammar of case affects their meanings, nor the figurative or metonymical or metaphorical meanings of those words. Case in point here in this passage, because some have argued that the word “death” in this passage means only physical death (which is really quite moronic in my mind).

Yes, the word is normally used for physical death, but because of the way that it is used here in the verse, it is quite clear that James refers to spiritual death; spiritual death is the metaphorical meaning for the word here. This is why you MUST not approach the Scriptures and interpret them according to your biases, because when you do you skew the meaning in your own mind, you need to approach the Scriptures with the intent on seeking the true intended meaning by the text – NOT approaching the Scriptures with the intent to protect or defend what you think you know as truth, because you just might be wrong, and your eternal destiny hangs in the balance based upon what you know.

 

 

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5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in coming to know our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm the call you received in Christ, and your choice to abide in Him, because if you practice these qualities you will never fall. (II Peter 1:5-10 ESV)

 

This whole passage addresses how one is to abide in Christ in obedience and lifestyle, confirming that one has heard the call (invitation) of God into His kingdom in Christ, and then practicing those things that will keep him in covenant relationship with God, practicing those things that will keep him from falling away from Christ.

 

 

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Because if they become entangled in the defilements of the world again, after having escaped them through knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, then they have placed themselves into a worse place than they were beforehand. Because it would have been better for them to have never known the way of righteousness, than for them to come to know it and then turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.” (II Peter 2:20-22 ESV)

 

First, the word for “knowing” here is epignosis, meaning that one comes to know what is known through personal experience and relationship with it, like a person coming to know a brand-new car that they just bought (where all the things are at and what they do – intimate knowledge). This is the same criterion that Christ uses several times in the gospels for sending people away, saying, “I do not know you.” In this verse, they knew Him, intimating that they had been saved and were at one time walking with Him in life.

Second, Peter says they escaped from the world through knowing Christ, another intimation that they were saved at one time. “known the way of righteousness” – here the word for “known” is epiginosko, meaning to fully know something through personal experience and personal acquaintance. Here what is experienced and fully known through personal dealings, is “the way of righteousness” – they were saved and walked in the Way in the past, direct evidence that they were at one time saved and walking with God.

Third, walking in disobedience to a commandment, whatever it might be, separates one from God. Fourth, the word here for “turn back from” is the word hupostrepho, and in this case it means “to turn back from” (it is literally translatable here). Again, turning back from a commandment emphasizes the fact that such people used to be walking in obedience to it, but have since changed their minds and are now walking in disobedience to it.

Both of the elements of this proverb (the dog and pig) represent people, they are figures of speech called an allegory. It depicts humans doing the equivalent of what the dog and pig does regarding the subject matter, in this case, eternal life. They came to God for salvation, walked with Him for a while after getting saved, but then returned to their “natural” ways – back into their previous lifestyles of sinful behavior. Anyone practicing a lifestyle of sin, whether saved in the past or not, no longer walks with God, and that is the base of having eternal life.

 

 

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Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. (I John 3:15 ESV)

 

John is talking to Christians, and he says that “everyone” who hates someone…which includes Christians. If you are saved and born again, but you harbor hatred towards someone, then despite the fact that you were at one time saved, you no longer have eternal life abiding in you.

 

 

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If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life–to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. (I John 5:16 ESV)

 

Again, John is speaking to Christians, telling them that if a Christian sees his Christian brother commit a sin that there is no forgiveness for, then not to even pray for that person, because there is no longer any forgiveness for that person (echoing Apollos’ words in Hebrews 10:26).

Telling people who are Christians that they can commit a sin that will send them to hell, completely destroys the idea that once a person has eternal life they cannot lose it. It is false teaching that directly contradicts the Scriptures.

 

 

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But I have this against you, that you have abandoned Me as your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the things that you used to do. If you do not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. (Revelation 2:4-5 ESV)

 

Jesus said that if we do not love Him first and foremost, even above our own families and children, then we are not worthy of Him (Mat. 10:37). This is what He intimates here in this passage, that those He spoke to no longer loved Him first, but had let other things come between them and Him.

Furthermore, He tells them that unless they “repent” (using the word twice in one passage) and regain the ground they had before, that they would go into ruin (“fall” = pipto, to fall, metaphorically meaning to fall into ruin and perish). The only time we are told to repent is when we are living in sin, and those who are living in sin (in this case) have crossed the line into spiritual ruin.

 

 

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And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: “The words of Him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. ‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of My God.’” (Revelation 3:1-2 ESV)

 

First, the word “dead” here, for any unbiased person, is pointedly speaking about spiritual death – being dead in sin. Second, when Jesus here speaks about their works being “complete,” He uses the word pleroo, implying that they were not made perfect because of some defect in their attitudes or other actions. This reminds us of James’ words, that faith is not complete or perfect if it does not produce obedience in a person’s life – so, too, if our obedience does not fall in line with faith, then neither is it complete or perfect. If either one is not complete or perfect, then it is as if we do not have either one.

 

 

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Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. (Revelation 3:4-5 ESV)

 

Speaking to Moses in Exodus 32:33, God says that He will blot out of His book anyone who sins against Him, and here Jesus also implies that those who are walking with Him can also be blotted out of the book of life. Many try to spiritualize this to mean something else, but here Christ is very clear. A person can end up in hell even after getting saved if he does not walk with God according to His Word, if he ceases to remain abiding in Christ. One’s name cannot be blotted out of the Book of Life if his name had never been entered therein.

 

 

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I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. (Revelation 3:15-16 ESV)

 

Another relatively clear passage – Jesus is speaking to the church, those who were saved, and He says that if they remain in a lukewarm state of half-hearted, apathetic indifference (chliaros), He will vomit them out of His mouth. The intended imagery here is that they were in Christ, but if they continue to be unconcerned and unresponsive to Him (via obedience or the leading of the Spirit), then they will be “rejected, cut off and cast away” (John 15:6).

 

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OBEDIENCE TO GOD

The premise here is that obedience is the foundation of relationship with God, therefore if a person is not walking in obedience to Him, regardless of the fact that they received salvation and were born again in the past, there is no divine relationship taking place. Obedience does not count as relationship, but relationship is based upon the foundation of obedience. Reformed theology denies this, seeing the blood of Christ as the foundation of relationship. Using the analogy of a building, the earth upon which the foundation is built is as the blood of Christ, the foundation is obedience, and the relationship with God is the building structure.

Using another analogy, there are three things that human life requires: oxygen, water, and food. Oxygen is the base requirement…no one can live longer than a few minutes without it. Water is the next important requirement, because a person can only live a few days without it, and next is food, where a person can live almost two months without. The blood of Christ is represented by oxygen…but you can’t live very long without the others. Water represents obedience, and the other factors (Bible, prayer, worship) are represented by foods.

That personal relationship is what takes a person to the consummation of eternal life in heaven, as we shall demonstrate in the following passages.

 

 

 

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; but whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, because the wrath of God remains upon him. (John 3:36 ESV)

 

First, the words “believe” and “obey” in the Greek are in the Present Active Participle, meaning that the action of the verb is performed continuously or repeatedly, depending upon the context.

Second, John the Baptist is quite clear, one may have eternal life because he believes, but if he does not walk in obedience to Christ, he will never come to the consummation of eternal life in heaven.

Third, salvation is not based upon obedience – but salvation and eternal life are two entirely different things. Eternal life is based upon obedience, which is why it is conditional.

Fourth, some versions of the Bible say, “but whoever does not believe in the Son will not have life,” and this is a gross mishandling of the Greek. The word here is apeitheo, which can mean not to allow oneself to be persuaded, not believe, to disbelieve, or to be disobedient. In the Greek, as we touched upon earlier, the grammar plays a large part in the meaning of words. Here the word apeitheo is found with the Dative case of person, which makes its meaning that of being disobedient to the Son.

Those translations which say “do not believe” are not to be trusted, because the translators either do not know enough about the Greek language in order to do correct and accurate translation, or they purposely mistranslated the text in accord with their bias.

Here John gives us the clear picture (along with John 3:15-16) that believing is not the only prerequisite to attaining heaven, it is only the first condition, not the one and only condition. A person can believe in Christ until the cows come home, but if he is not walking in obedience to God, then he received salvation for nothing…he has received the grace of God in vain.

 

 

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Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. (Matthew 3:8-10 ESV)

 

Bearing fruit in keeping with repentance means that one is modifying his behavior from what he repented of (a sinful lifestyle) to that which he turned to – in this case, from unrighteous sinful behavior to righteous, godly behavior. The implication here is that those who do not walk in obedient righteousness after the act of repenting and being saved, will still end up in eternal fire.

 

 

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And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ (Matthew 25:30 ESV)

 

The word for “worthless” here in the Greek is achreios, meaning one who has been set aside as worthless and no longer useful. In context, Jesus here is explaining what the kingdom of God will be like, so here He addresses a “doulos” (slave), which is the designation in many places in Scripture for a believer who has been saved, born again, and has willingly made himself a “bond-slave” of God in Christ. Therefore, the “servant” in the story exemplifies saved believers.

If the saved believer does not walk in obedience to his Master, then he will be set aside as worthless, no longer useful to God for anything, and will eventually be cast out into the “outer darkness,” which is one of the descriptions that Jesus gives us of the Lake of Fire.

 

 

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31  “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. 32  Before Him will be gathered all the nations, and He will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33  And He will place the sheep on His right, but the goats on the left. 34  Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35  For I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed Me, 36  I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you visited Me, I was in prison and you came to Me.’ 37  Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38  And when did we see You a stranger and welcome You, or naked and clothe You? 39  And when did we see You sick or in prison and visit You?’ 40  And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers, you did it to Me.’ 

41  “Then He will say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42  For I was hungry and you gave Me no food, I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink, 43  I was a stranger and you did not welcome Me, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ 44  Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ 45  Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46  And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:31-46 ESV)

 

First, this is not a parable like so many try to make it out to be. Jesus clearly identifies this as a prophetic statement concerning judgment day – those who walked in obedience to Him by loving on others in need, are called the righteous, and they inherit eternal life. Obviously, this does not discount them first being saved and born again. Those who do not walk in obedience to God, despite being saved and born again, will be those He sends into the Lake of Fire.

The passage is clear, “grace and faith alone” is a false motto when it comes to maintaining one’s eternal life. It is wholly a Reformed Theological doctrine that has no support in the Scriptures when they are correctly interpreted.

 

 

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“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and cast out demons in Your name, and do many mighty works in Your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Matthew 7:21-23 ESV)

 

Jesus is quite clear here, even if a person received salvation in the past, making Him their Lord, if they do not walk in obedience to God then they will never enter into the kingdom of God, the kingdom of heaven.

Some say that those calling Him “Lord” does not mean that they were saved, but this is great error, which is why I quote three verses instead of only verse 21. Verse 22 contains those who are calling Jesus “Lord,” and they have performed miracles in Christ’s name. The ONLY people who can do miracles in Christ’s name are those who are abiding in the New Covenant, because that is where the authority and power to be able to do those works come from. If a person is in the New Covenant of Christ, then they were saved and walking in obedience to Him at one time in their lives.

However, there is a third element that without which, no man will enter into heaven – and that is observed in verse 23… “I never knew you…” As we will see later when we get to John 17:3, the whole purpose for being given eternal life in the first place, is so that we can enter into God’s presence and engage Him in personal relationship, coming to know Him as He comes to know us. Those in verse 21-22 who were in covenant relationship with God, failed to engage Him in personal relationship…they failed to use eternal life for what it was given for.

Although they walked with God for a while, they neglected to spend time with Him. In order to get into heaven, the final condition is that you know Jesus/God personally so that He knows you. If He does not know you, then even though you received salvation in the past, and even walked in obedience to Him, you will be cast into the Lake of Fire.

 

 

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For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother. (Matthew 12:50 ESV)

 

Here Jesus makes a very clear statement: only those who walk in obedience to God are part of His earthly family. Again, this does not negate getting saved, because other Scriptures tell us so. Remember Luke 13:25, 27 where the direct implication of the words in Greek mean, “You are not related to Me; depart from Me, all you workers of wickedness.”

The implication here is that if one is not related to Jesus, because they are not walking in obedience to God, then they will be thrown into the Lake of Fire rather than making it to the consummation of eternal life in heaven.

 

 

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“Why do you call Me ‘Lord’ but then not do what I tell you to do?” (Luke 6:46 ESV)

 

The word here in the Greek for “Lord” is kurios, meaning lord and master. The Lord’s question is not only a just one, but also demonstrates that if one calls Him Lord, but does not walk in obedience to Him, then He is not the Lord of that person’s life. That person, although calling Jesus his lord, has made himself his own lord.

 

 

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and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment. (John 5:29 ESV)

 

Here Jesus says plainly that on judgment day, only those who have done “good” (which here is a metaphor for walking in obedience to God, doing what is right in His eyes) will make it to the resurrection of eternal life. This verse exemplifies the fact that grace and faith alone does not take a person into the consummation of eternal life in heaven.

 

 

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Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word, he will never see death. (John 8:51 ESV)

 

The word “keeps” here is tereo, meaning to keep an eye on, to watch, to guard; figuratively it means to obey, observe (keep), fulfill, to perform watchfully. Here in this verse, it takes on the figurative meaning of to obey.

Jesus says very clearly…the only way that we will never experience spiritual death is by walking in obedience to His Word. Again, only walking in obedience to Him will not take a person to heaven, because obedience without salvation means nothing. Our obedience is only acceptable to God while we are abiding in His New Covenant.

 

 

***

If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. (John 14:15 ESV)

 

This verse only has meaning to this subject matter when we take other passages into consideration, such as James 1:12 and 2:5, where he says that God has only made His promises to those who love Him. The promise of eternal life, as well as the promise if inheriting the kingdom of God, is only given to those “who love Him.” Therefore, taking into consideration other passages that tell us that we love on God by walking in obedience to Him (I John 5:3), the conclusion is simple. If we do not walk in obedience to God, loving on Him, then we will not make it to heaven, regardless if we got saved in the past.

 

 

***

Whoever does not love Me does not keep My words. And the word that you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me. (John 14:24 ESV)

 

This verse only has meaning to this subject matter when we take other passages into consideration, such as James 1:12 and 2:5, where he says that God has only made His promises to those who love Him. The promise of eternal life, as well as the promise if inheriting the kingdom of God, is only given to those “who love Him.” Therefore, taking into consideration other passages that tell us that we love on God by walking in obedience to Him (I John 5:3), the conclusion is simple. If we do not walk in obedience to God, loving on Him, then we will not make it to heaven, regardless if we got saved in the past.

 

 

***

He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in doing good works seek for glory and honor and immortality, He will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. (Romans 2:6-8 ESV)

 

It is fascinating to me when it comes to passages like this one, how many Calvinists deal with it by saying something to the effect of, “No, Paul says that eternal life is a gift from God…” While this is true, it has no bearing upon this passage, because all of God’s promises and gifts are conditional upon our obedience to Him.

Paul, whom they regularly turn to in their rebuttals, is also the one who penned these words; yet they try to make Paul argue with himself using his own words against other words that he penned, in a combat, war-like fashion. This is not how to interpret the Scriptures. Neither God, nor Paul, contradicts themselves. He says clearly and plainly here, and he is talking to Christians in Rome, saying that even though you got saved in the past, if you do not walk in obedience to God in doing what is right in His eyes, then you will not receive eternal life in heaven in the end.

This is also confirmed because in context here, the verses before this passage (which are also addressing Roman Christians), Paul says that they are storing up wrath for themselves for the “day of wrath” of God. They were saved, born again, yet their actions and attitudes were taking them to hell.

 

 

***

For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. (Romans 2:13 ESV)

 

This is an interesting verse that throws Calvinists off every time, because here Paul says that only those who are walking in obedience to “the law” will be justified before God, they are the only ones who God calls righteous. Yet in the chapter that follows, he says that no one will be justified by walking in obedience to the law.

The problem disappears when we realize and understand that in this verse above, Paul addresses the Law of Christ, while in chapter 3 he addresses the law of Moses – which is now dead and gone, having been replaced by the New Covenant and its new law. The point for our purpose remains; only those who walk in obedience to God (righteousness) will be justified, righteous, and may enter into the consummation of eternal life in heaven on the “last day.”

 

 

***

so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 5:21 ESV)

 

The wording of this verse is routinely ignored by Reformed theology. Paul says that grace reigns through obedience to God, which leads to eternal life. He is making a direct reference to covenant, because obedience to God in the Law of Christ (the law of the New Covenant) is what causes us to remain in Christ where grace dwells. He says “might” because the word for reign is in the Subjunctive mood, giving it the meaning that we are supposed to walk in righteousness, but there is doubt that we will – it is possible and desired, but the act remains to us to fulfill or not.

If one is walking in obedience to God, then he remains abiding in the New Covenant where ‘saving’ grace continues to be applied to his life, leading to eternal life and the consummation of eternal life in heaven, through Christ. But, if a saved, born again person ceases to continue walking in obedience to God, then none of the following attributes applies to him any longer.

 

 

***

Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? (Romans 6:16 ESV)

 

Paul is very clear here: either you walk in obedience to God, which leads to righteousness – or you walk in obedience to sin and die spiritually here, and will be cast into the Lake of Fire in eternity. He is speaking to born again Christians as well as those in the Roman church who may not yet have taken the steps toward salvation and eternal life.

 

 

***

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. (Romans 12:1 ESV)

 

Paul identifies who he is speaking to here, “brothers” in the Lord – meaning those who are saved and born again. He tells them that they must walk in obedience to God (sacrificing their desires to fulfill sinful appetites) so that they can remain “holy and acceptable to God.” It does not matter if we have been saved and born again if we are not walking in obedience to God, because as John said in John 3:36, if we are not walking in obedience to Him then we are NOT acceptable to Him.

 

 

***

You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? (Galatians 5:7 ESV)

 

A metaphorical argument here: Jesus said that He is the truth, so if the Galatians ceased to walk in obedience to the truth, then they ceased to walk in obedience to Jesus. If they were no longer walking in obedience to Christ, then they ‘fell from grace,’ which is what he tells them just three verses earlier.

Even if Paul only means the truth of Christianity, then those he was speaking to had still cut themselves off from Christ by not walking in that truth. If one is not walking in obedience to His Word, then he is not one of His disciples, and if he is not a disciple of Christ, then he has wandered away from the Faith and is lost, just as James tells us in the last sentences of his letter.

 

 

***

And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? (Hebrews 3:18 ESV)

 

Apollos ratifies these things by using passages in the OT that apply to us today. The rest that God promised Israel in the OT represents heaven to us today under the NT. The spiritual principle of obedience as a foundation for eternal life is still the same. He saved Israel out of bondage to Egypt, symbolic today of Christ saving us from bondage to sin – yet He still destroyed those who walked in disobedience to Him…just as those today who walk in disobedience to Him will not be allowed to enter into His “rest” in heaven, even after being saved and born again.

 

 

***

Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. (Hebrews 4:11 ESV)

 

First, the word translated as “strive” here is spoudazo, meaning to be diligent, earnest; to make every effort to do your best. Contrary to false Reformed theology, which tells us that all we have to do is believe because of grace and faith alone nonsense, we are told that we must make every effort to do our best to enter into that “rest,” which is symbolic here of attaining to heaven at the consummation of eternal life.

Second, Apollos is very bold in saying once again that those who fail to enter into the portals of glory, fail to do so because of disobedience. Again, we cannot walk in disobedience to God even after getting saved and expect to make it to heaven, such an ideology directly contradicts the Word of God on many, many counts.

 

 

***

And being made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, (Hebrews 5:9 ESV)

 

He is very specific here also, even though he uses the word “salvation” as a metonym for eternal life. We know this because eternal life is maintained by us through obedience to Christ, while salvation is not something that we maintain since it is a one-time historical event in a person’s life (just as getting saved from drowning would be). While life is always maintained by the one who has life – both physically and spiritually. Only those who walk in obedience to Him will make it to the consummation of eternal life in heaven.

 

 

***

For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. (Hebrews 10:36 ESV)

 

Here again Apollos tells us that only those who “have done the will of God” may receive what is promised, and in context he is speaking of receiving eternal life in the consummation of the same in heaven. He says “may” because obedience alone does not take us into the consummation of eternal life – it is just another prerequisite; what takes us into eternity with God, is an intimate personal relationship with God.

So, just as we observe in Mat. 7:21-23, if a person walks in obedience to God but fails to engage Him in an intimate personal love relationship, then he will never come to know Him and He will never come to know him on a personal level. Therefore, Christ will say to him on that day, “I do not know you…you are not related to Me, depart from Me…” into the Lake of Fire prepared for the devil and his followers.

 

 

***

And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead. (James 2:25 – 26 ESV)

 

In all of James’ chapter 2 conversation on faith and “works,” when he says “works” he is speaking directly about walking in obedience to either God, or to the dictates of the Christian faith. For example, if you believe that you can walk through walls, then you will walk into walls because you believe that you can walk through them…otherwise your belief is just words. If you believe that you can fly like Superman, then you will take a running start and then jump into the air to fly…otherwise you are just blowing hot air.

Obedience to God gives life to our faith, but if we are not walking in obedience to Him – in that we are walking in obedience to His Word – then our ‘faith’ is dead faith, not worth a plugged nickel. In other words, if you believe that you should not cuss, have sex outside of marriage, or watch porn like the Scriptures talk about, then you will not do those things. Otherwise you are only offering lip service to God and your faith is dead, not worth anything.

The implication of that is this: since we receive all things from God via the conduit of faith, and you really don’t have any faith, just lip service…then you are not saved. If you were saved, but have since engaged in sinful activity to the point that your ‘faith’ has been compromised through the deception of sin, then you no longer have eternal life. You are spiritually dead in your sins and on your way to hell.

 

 

***

Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, (I Peter 1:22 ESV)

 

Here Peter says that we purify our souls by walking in obedience to the truth. The word for “purified” here is hagnizo, meaning to make clean, purify, to consecrate…in other words, metaphorically, to make holy, to sanctify. Peter says here that we sanctify (purify) ourselves by walking in obedience to the truth of the Faith, Christianity – we make ourselves holy by walking in obedience to God.

Apollos says in Heb. 12:14 (which we have already looked at earlier) that if we do not strive for holiness, we will never see God in heaven – the last time we will see Him is on judgment day when He sends us into the Lake of Fire. And he says that to born again Christians, implying that even if we are saved and born again, if we do not walk in obedience to God’s Word, sanctifying ourselves, then we will still end up on eternal flames.

 

 

***

And by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. Whoever says “I know Him” but does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps His word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in Him. (I John 2:3-5 ESV)

 

Remember Jesus’ words in Mat. 7:23, “I never knew you;” and Mat. 25:12, “I do not know you.” Those words play into this passage: if we know Him then we will walk in obedience to Him, if we do not know Him then we will not walk in obedience to Him, even if one was saved and born again in the past. Continuing into verse 5, walking in obedience to God demonstrates that we have not only come to know Him, but that we have come to love Him.

 

 

***

But if we are walking in the light, as God is in the light, then we are in fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. (I John 1:7 ESV)

 

This verse is an important one for many reasons, but now we will focus on one aspect of it. First, as I John 2:10 states, those who live a lifestyle of loving on others in their needs are those who are abiding in the Light. In this verse that translates into those who love on others are abiding and walking in the Light with God, in divine fellowship with Him; the result is that the atonement in Christ’s blood continually cleanses us from sin.

The direct implication here is that even if a person has been saved and born again in the past, if that person does not practice a lifestyle of walking in obedience to God (in loving on others, thereby abiding in the Light with Him), then they also cease to have the atonement in Christ’s blood applied to their lives. That means…no atonement, no eternal life. If there’s no atonement then there’s no forgiveness, no cleansing from sin and such a person once again becomes dead in sin and transgressions. The person has not become “un-born again,” but they no longer have union with God (because sin separates us from Him), and if there is no union then that person is separated from God and on their way to eternal flames.

 

 

***

Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. (I John 2:10 ESV)

 

John is speaking to saved, born again Christians…because it does not matter if a person walks in obedience to the Bible if they are not saved and born again. He says that those who walk in obedience to God by loving on others in their needs, are those who abide in the Light – which is a figure of speech meaning that such a person is walking in legal union with God (as it pertains to the New Covenant).

 

 

***

And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (I John 2:17 ESV)

 

John makes an emphatic statement here: those who make it to the consummation of eternal life in heaven, will be those who walk in obedience to the will of God. Again, he is speaking to saved, born again people, because even if an unsaved person walks in obedience to the Scriptures, they can never be “good enough” to save themselves. Because of grace, a person can come to faith in Christ and walk in obedience to Him – and in conjunction with other passages – engage God in personal relationship, come to know and love Him, and make it to the consummation of eternal life.

 

 

***

If you know that He is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of Him. (I John 2:29 ESV)

 

The phrase “born of Him” (God) is a direct reference to being a child of God – we need to keep this in mind during our translation and interpretation process.

The Reformed theologian says that since gennao (born) is in the Perfect (past) tense, which carries into the future, that such a person is OSAS. However, since “born of God” is a figure of speech for being a child of God – which is demonstrated throughout the Scriptures – we must dig deeper in our interpretation process.

No one, from Genesis to Revelation, is called children of God unless they were walking in obedience to God – SO IS IT HERE. John is saying NOT that a person is walking in righteousness because they have been born of God (because that is not supported anywhere else in Scripture), but that a person is a child of God as long as they have been saved and are walking in obedience to God (righteousness).

This is supported by accurate exegesis of the Scriptures according to a complete Biblical Hermeneutic, applying all of the principles of Biblical interpretation. The Reformed theologian will vehemently deny this – but those in the Reformed tradition do not apply a complete Biblical Hermeneutic to their study of the Scriptures…because if they did, they would be forced to abandon Calvinism as a gross falsification of the Scriptures in practically all of its doctrines.

 

 

***

Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as He is righteous. (I John 3:7 ESV)

 

John could not be clearer here – a person is righteous in God’s eyes as long as he practices doing what is right in God’s eyes, just as many, many passages teach throughout the Bible. The implication to the subject matter here is this: if a person who has been saved and born again in the past ceases to practice righteousness (doing what is right in God’s eyes, which is to say, walking in obedience to God and His Word), then that person is no longer righteous in God’s eyes.

According to covenant principles, God imputes the righteousness of Christ to the believer’s account as long as he remains abiding in the New Covenant (by walking in obedience to Him). If that person ceases to do so, then he is no longer in the covenant, he is no longer abiding in Christ, and that means that he no longer has eternal life.

 

 

***

By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. (I John 3:10 ESV)

 

If a person is “not of God” then he does not have eternal life. The righteousness that John addresses here is not the imputed righteousness of Christ to the believer’s account, if that was the case, he couldn’t say that we need to “practice” it…because we are incapable of doing so. No, John specifically refers here to the fact that we are commanded to practice walking in obedience to God, and if we do not, then we are not “of God.” Remember, John is addressing saved, born again believers – he is telling them directly (and indirectly, implying) that just because they have been saved and born again, that they are not excluded from the mandate to walk in obedience to God – just as we are not excluded from that fact.

 

 

***

We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. (I John 3:14 ESV)

 

John makes it more succinct here – we have eternal life as long as we love on other people; whoever does not love on other people still abide in death…echoing what John the Baptist says in John 3:36. A person may have eternal life because he believes in Christ, but if he does not walk in obedience to God by loving on others (meeting the needs of those in need), then he will never make it to the consummation of eternal life. This is the same message by Jesus in Mat. 25:31-46, which we have already covered.

 

 

***

And this is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as He has commanded us. Whoever keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He will abide in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us. (I John 3:23-24 ESV)

 

Here John says by the Holy Spirit that there are two commandments of the New Covenant in Christ (which replaced the 10 commandments of the Old Covenant), and that when we walk in obedience to God in those commandments, we abide in Him and He will abide in us. He goes on to say that we know that He abides in us because we have the Spirit of God dwelling within us. This is a reference to covenant abiding.

According to covenant principles and the New Covenant in Christ, we have the indwelling Spirit of God within us only if we are “in Christ.” If a person ceases to remain abiding in Christ because he ceased to walk in obedience to God, then he no longer has the indwelling Holy Spirit. If he no longer has the Spirit of God within him, then he no longer has eternal life.

The key point of this passage is better observed with another passage in I John:

 

And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. (I John 5:11-12 ESV)

 

We “have the Son” by walking in obedience to God in these new commandments (which are really old principles now given as commandments) because when we do so, we are in Him and He is in us. Regardless of a person receiving Christ at some point in the past, if he ceases to walk in obedience to God, then he no longer abides in Him and He no longer abides in that person – therefore, that person does not have Christ. The result is that he no longer has eternal life, and that person will end up in the Lake of Fire unless he repents and comes back to God.

One does not “have the Son” because he was saved in the past, one only “has the Son” as he walks in obedience to Him and remains abiding in Him.

 

 

***

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. (I John 4:16 ESV)

 

Again, whoever walks in obedience to God’s commandment to love on people in their need, those are the ones who are abiding in God. We abide in God/Christ by walking in obedience to Him. And again, this does not discount getting saved; a person can walk in obedience to the Scriptures all he wants to, but if he is not saved it counts for nothing.

 

 

***

No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and His love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us out of His Spirit. (I John 4:12-13 ESV)

 

First, as with the last two passages, if a person walks in obedience to God in loving on others, then that person is abiding in God and God is abiding in him. If a person is in God, and God is in him, then that person has eternal life. Covenant principle still applies; John says “if” because even a saved, born again Christian can stop loving on people, and when (and if) he does, then God no longer remains in him and he is no longer abiding in God. He has walked away from having eternal life. This is exemplified in the first verses of I John, where he says that Christ is “the life.” The OT tells us that God is our “life.” In order to have life, one must have God/Christ…if he does not, then he does not have life.

Secondly, “he has given us of His Spirit” in the Greek literally reads, “He has given us OUT OF His Spirit,” meaning not the Holy Spirit Himself, but here John refers to experiencing the gifts of the Spirit. He is saying that we know that we have the Spirit because we experience the operation of the gifts of the Spirit in our lives. This is important to understand, because if one is not operating in the gifts of the Spirit, which is given to all who are saved and born again (I Cor. 12), then that person needs to examine himself. If he is not manifesting a spiritual gift then he needs to seek the Lord for what his gift is (spiritual gift – not natural talent, they are not the same thing), or test himself to see if he is still walking in the Faith and abiding in Christ.

We know this because…of the experiential results of the indwelling Spirit within us – that is, the gifts of the Spirit in operation in our lives (I Cor. 12:7), that “the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one” or in experiencing the Fruit of the Spirit. If one does not experience the manifestation of the Spirit in his life, either through the gifts or fruit of the Spirit, then John says that he doesn’t abide in God and therefore doesn’t have the Spirit of God – which is why he doesn’t manifest any of these spiritual manifestations. If a person is not manifesting one of those gifts, then again, he needs to examine himself and seek God, because he may no longer be abiding in Christ – especially if he has not been walking in obedience to God in all things. Disobedience separates us from God, and if we are separated from Him, then we do not possess His Spirit.

 

 

***

Because this is how we love God, we keep His commandments, and His commandments are not burdensome. (I John 5:3 ESV)

 

Plain and simple – we love on God by walking in obedience to His commandments of the New Covenant, which is to believe and trust in Christ, and love on people when we have the opportunities to do so. Remember the passages before where God says eternal life and the kingdom of heaven is reserved only for those “who love God.”

 

 

***

keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. (Jude 1:21 ESV)

 

How does one keep himself in the love of God? Jesus tells us in John 14:21 that whoever walks in obedience to Christ will be loved by the Father. If someone is walking in obedience to Christ and, therefore, loved by God, then that person has eternal life and is on his way to the future consummation of the same.

 

 

***

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’ (Revelation 2:7 ESV)

 

First, we must recognize that the glorified Christ here is addressing believers, not unbelievers – because He as much as says so… “To the church of Ephesus…”

Therefore, when He says that “to the one who conquers” He is not talking about unbelievers somehow conquering by becoming saved – He is still addressing saved believers. The implication here is that salvation alone is not enough (which is what many other passages teach); getting saved is just the beginning, and if we understand the purpose of the atonement then we can understand the purpose of salvation and eternal life present, just as addressed by Christ in John 17:3…

 

This is the purpose of eternal life; that they may come to know You personally, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. (John 17:3 ESV)

 

The purpose of getting saved from our sins and being given eternal life, is to give us what we need in order to be qualified and authorized to enter into God’s very presence so that we can engage Him in intimate relationship and thereby come to know Him personally.

Recall again Christ’s words in Mat. 7:23 and 25:12 – “I never knew you” and “I do not know you.” If we do not come to know Him by spending time with Him, then He does not come to know us, it is a two-way street. We overcome and conquer by receiving salvation and eternal life, and by using what God has made available to us and engaging Him in personal relationship. If we don’t know Him then He does not know us…and if He does not know us, then we will not enter into the eternal gates of heaven.

Some like to say that God knows all people – but there is a huge difference between knowing all there is to know about someone, and actually knowing that person personally and experientially, and that is what divine relationship is all about. If only those whom God knows about get into heaven, then we would be preaching universalism, because God knows about all people, so this Reformed argument is as lame as they come.

 

 

***

Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. (Revelation 2:10 ESV)

 

Here Christ echoes is teachings in the gospels when he said: “But those who endure until the end will be saved” (Mat. 24:13). It has the exact same meaning here – “Be faithfully obedience to Me until death…”

The word here for “faithful” is pistos, meaning worthy of belief, trust, or confidence; trustworthy, true, sure, believable. In this context, it takes on the meaning of being faithful in duty, fidelity, being faithfully obedient to perform the duties assigned – in other words, being faithful in walking in obedience to God and His Word.

Reformed theology likes to say that salvation and eternal life are “free,” but because they do not understand the atonement, they do not understand what the word “free” references in Biblical thought. Salvation is free monetarily, it doesn’t cost us anything monetary like it did those under the Old Covenant – but today under the New Covenant, the cost is our entire life. This is what is referred to when Jesus says to “be faithful (in obedience) unto death.” Such an appointment goes beyond martyrdom.

 

 

***

They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with Him are called and chosen and faithful. (Revelation 17:14 ESV)

 

Here the same sentiment as above is addresses. It is not those who were called, nor even those who were chosen because they chose Christ, who will enter into heaven. But it is those who were called, who answered that call and chose to be in Christ, and who walked in faithful obedience to Him until the day they died physically, who will walk the streets of God and one day appear in John’s vision here.

 

 

***

it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure” – for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. (Revelation 19:8 ESV)

 

This is an important passage for all those in Reformed theology who say or teach that we don’t have to do anything in order to get to heaven, because “God does it all for us,” which is not found in Scripture anywhere.

This verse is best understood in conjunction with Jesus’ parable teaching about the kingdom of God:

 

And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.’” But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them.

The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.

But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:1-14 ESV)

 

In the parable Jesus says that a man was found at the wedding celebration without wedding clothes, which has a significant meaning in the Jewish wedding custom. In our text in Revelation 19:8 we are told that the wedding garment is actually “the righteous deeds of the saints.”

First, in an actual situation, no one would be found at a Jewish wedding celebration without wearing a wedding garment, but for the sake of the parable Jesus wove that situation into the story. Taking these two passages together, if one simply takes the false teaching of “by grace through faith alone” nonsense as true, and does not walk in obedience to God, then they will never make it to the wedding feast of the Church and Christ on that day.

 

 

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“In Christ”

Passages to keep in mind for this section:

 

I am the LORD; I have called You in righteousness; I will take You by the hand and keep You; I will give You as a Covenant for the people, a light for the nations, (Isaiah 42:6 ESV)

Thus says the LORD: “In a time of favor I have answered You; in a day of salvation I have helped You; I will keep You and give You as a Covenant to the people, to establish the land, to apportion the desolate heritages,” (Isaiah 49:8 ESV)

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? (Romans 6:3 ESV)

because however many of you were baptized into Christ, have entered Christ. (Galatians 3:27 ESV)

 

The premise in this section is that the Scriptures tell us that Jesus Christ is the living embodiment of the New Covenant, and that those who are in Christ are in that covenant. Scripture tells us in I John 3:23-24 that those who walk in obedience to God in His two new commandments of the New Covenant (cling to Christ in believing trust, and love on others) are those who are abiding in Christ. We are baptized into Christ, and remain abiding in Christ by walking in obedience to Him.

Secondly, all that God gives to us as gifts and promises, are all given to us by and through the New Covenant. According to covenanting in Jesus’ day, one does not have any of the promises or gifts given through a covenant unless they are abiding in that covenant – so is it today. Those who are in Christ have eternal life, redemption, reconciliation with God, salvation from sin, the imputed righteousness and holiness of Christ, justification, saving grace, and more.

HOWEVER, those who are not abiding in Christ, or who have ceased to remain abiding in Him, even if they received salvation in the past, no longer have any of the promises or gifts accorded to us in Christ. Because those gifts and promises are solely for those who are “in Christ.” This is a sharp contrast to what Reformed theology tells us – because Reformed theology is false on many counts. Take what the Scriptures tell us over what man’s doctrine tells us, otherwise you will deceive yourself into thinking that you are walking with God when you are, in fact, not. Blessings!

 

  1. Eternal life is found ONLY in Christ:

 

In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. (John 1:4 ESV)

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23 ESV)

For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. (I Corinthians 15:22 ESV)

even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive in Christ – accepting Him is salvation from sin – (Ephesians 2:5 ESV)

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together in Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, (Colossians 2:13 ESV)

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus, (II Timothy 1:1 ESV)

 

Just so that you understand the implications of the operating principles of covenant, here are those principles (they are important because any interpretation of Scripture that does not amend itself to these principles, will be incorrect to one degree or another – because all of the NT is a New Covenant document):

 

  1.  A covenant was not in force until after both parties agreed to all of the elements, terms, stipulations, promises, blessings, benefits, gifts and obligations of the covenant agreement, and the covenant relationship was inaugurated and then ratified. At that point all elements of the covenant were legally binding upon all parties involved. This principle did not apply in suzerain-vassal type covenants, as the suzerain dictated all of the stipulations of the covenant to his vassal, who (as the conquered king) had no say in the matter.

 

  1. Once the covenant had been entered into by both parties, no alteration could take place unless both parties agreed to such an alteration, usually in response to some unforeseen variable at the time of the inauguration of the covenant.

 

  1. Entering into covenant established not only a binding legal relationship between both parties, but was also recognized as the establishment of such a strong relationship, that most covenantal cultures considered it more binding than familial relationships.

 

  1. The terms, stipulations, promises, blessings, benefits, and gifts of the covenant are only applicable to those who are participants in that specific covenant. If a covenant partner for some reason ceased to remain in covenant relationship with the other, then he forfeited all covenant rights, terms, stipulations, promises, blessings, benefits, and gifts accorded to him in, and by, the covenant.

 

  1. All of the elements of the covenant in question, whether terms, stipulations, promises, benefits, and gifts, or obligations, were interpreted solely from within the context of the covenant from which they originated.

 

  1. None of the obligations of the covenant were legally binding upon the participants until after the covenant had been inaugurated, and then ratified.

 

Thus, from covenant principle #4, any person who has been saved in the past and walking with God in eternal life, if that person ceases to abide in the covenant (Christ) by failing to continuously walk in obedience to God, that person no longer has any of the gifts of the New Covenant in Christ.

That means that such a person no longer has eternal life, salvation, redemption, or anything else that the New Covenant gifts to us in Christ (including the indwelling Holy Spirit). The nonsense teaching of Reformed theology that once a person has the Spirit of God dwelling within him, that He will never leave him, is a direct contradiction to what the Scriptures teach (in other words, it is a lie, a doctrine of demons and seducing spirits that someone listened to in the past and began to teach as a doctrine of God). Continuing…

 

  1. Redemption is found only in Christ:

 

and are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, (Romans 3:24 ESV)

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, (Ephesians 1:7 ESV)

 

Again, the implication is this: one only has redemption as long as he remains abiding in Christ by walking in obedience to Him. If one ceases to walk in obedience to God, then he is no longer abiding in Christ, and he no longer has redemption.

 

  1. Saving grace is only found in Christ:

 

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Also, it is in Him – by faith – that we have access to this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of receiving the glory of God. (Romans 5:1-2 ESV)

I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given to you in Christ Jesus, (I Corinthians 1:4 ESV)

to the praise of His glorious grace, with which He has blessed us in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:6 ESV)

You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, (II Timothy 2:1 ESV)

so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:7 ESV)

 

Again, if we remain abiding in Christ, then we continue to have saving grace…because it is only found in Him. If one ceases to remain abiding in Him, then he ceases to have saving grace.

 

  1. Sanctification (holiness) is found only in Christ:

 

To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: (I Corinthians 1:2 ESV)

 

  1. Salvation is found only in Christ:

 

Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. (II Timothy 2:10 ESV)

 

  1. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ:

 

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1-2 ESV)

 

 

  1. We are only considered alive to God as long as we are in Christ:

 

So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:11 ESV)

 

 

  1. We only experience the familial love of God as long as we remain in Christ:

 

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39 ESV)

 

 

  1. We are only a new creation as long as we are in Christ:

 

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (II Corinthians 5:17 ESV)

 

 

  1. We are only children of God if we are in Christ:

 

for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. (Galatians 3:26 ESV)

 

 

  1. All of the promises of God are only found in Christ, because He is the living New Covenant:

 

For all the promises of God find their Yes in Him. That is why it is through Him that we utter our Amen to God for His glory. (II Corinthians 1:20 ESV)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, (Ephesians 1:3 ESV)

This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. (Ephesians 3:6 ESV)

 

 

  1. A saint is a believer who remains faithfully abiding in Christ:

 

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: (Ephesians 1:1 ESV)

 

 

  1. We are God’s chosen people as long as we remain abiding in Christ:

 

even as He, before founding the world, ordained that whoever would come to be in Christ, they would be His chosen, being made holy and spotless in Him through love, (Ephesians 1:4 ESV)

 

 

  1. We have obtained an inheritance only as we remain in Christ:

 

In Him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, (Ephesians 1:11 ESV)

 

 

  1. We are marked by the presence of the Holy Spirit within us ONLY as long as we remain abiding in Christ:

 

In Him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in Him, were marked with the promised Holy Spirit, (Ephesians 1:13 ESV)

 

 

  1. We are seated in Christ in the heavenly places only as we remain abiding in Christ:

 

and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, (Ephesians 2:6 ESV)

 

 

  1. We are only near to God as long as we remain abiding in Christ:

 

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2:13 ESV)

 

 

  1. We have access to God by His Spirit as long as we remain in Christ:

 

because in Him, both Jew and Gentile have access in one Spirit to the Father. (Ephesians 2:18 ESV)

 

 

  1. We are circumcised in Christ as long as we remain abiding in Christ:

 

In Him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, (Colossians 2:11 ESV)

 

 

  1. We only remain abiding in Christ as we continue practicing walking in obedience to God:

 

And by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. Whoever says “I know Him” but does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps His word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in Him. (I John 2:3-5 ESV)

And this is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as He has commanded us. Whoever keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He will abide in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us. (I John 3:23-24 ESV)

 

Anyone who does not continue to remain abiding in Christ by walking in obedience to Him, no longer remains abiding in the New Covenant of God in Christ. Such a person no longer has any of the things we have covered in these last 7 pages.

Scripture is adamant that one only remains abiding in Christ by walking in obedience to Him; the only way to circumvent this fact is by cherry-picking the Scriptures to death, or by assigning biased interpretations to key texts that cannot be supported by other passages.

That is the subject of the next section of study…

 

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ABIDING IN CHRIST

 

And this is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as He has commanded us. Whoever keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He will abide in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us. (I John 3:23-24 ESV)

 

This passage is so clear that there should not be any issues or difficulties in understanding what it is saying…

There are two commandments of the New Covenant of God in Christ: have faith and trust in Christ, and love on others in their needs (which is elaborated upon in numerous texts).

Those who walk in obedience to God’s two commandments of the New Covenant in Christ, abide in Him and He will be abiding in them.

There is no other way to abide in Christ (or God); Reformed theology lies when it tells us that we abide in Him just because we believe – but they have to say that in order to sustain the other false doctrines that they teach, such as “its all by grace and faith alone” nonsense.

If one remains abiding in Christ by walking in obedience to Him, then he has all of the gifts and promises accorded to man by God in the New Covenant. However, if one ceases to walk in obedience to God (Christ) then he no longer abides in His covenant, and he has forfeited all of the gifts and promises of God, because they are only for those who are abiding in Him.

This includes, but is not limited to, the indwelling Holy Spirit, being a new creature in Christ, eternal life, redemption, reconciliation with God, the imputed righteousness and holiness of Christ to his account, justification, sanctification, the kingdom of God, and having his identity in Christ.

 

 

***

Whoever feeds on My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. (John 6:56 ESV)

 

Here Jesus specifically addresses communion: communion according to Jesus here in His own words, is necessary for one to abide in Him.

A topical study on the subject of communion also teaches us that communion should be a regularly scheduled event in the church, but the frequency of communion is not really addressed.

 

 

***

If anyone does not remain abiding in Me he is rejected, cut off, and thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. (John 15:6 ESV)

 

First, “he is rejected, cut off, and thrown away” – from the word “ballo,” meaning “to cast off, to cut off, to bring, to carry, to throw.” The meaning of this word is one that is directly affected by other words immediately surrounding it, in this case, it is followed by the adverb “exo,” which changes the meaning to that of “to throw away, to reject.”

Christ makes this very clear – those who were at one time abiding in Him, who do not continue to remain in Him, are rejected, cut off, and thrown away. Thus, a man who was at one time “born again” can most definitely be cast into hell rather than making it to the consummation of eternal life in heaven.

Recall that one abides in Christ by walking in obedience to the Law of Christ, which is detailed for us in I John 3:23-24 which we have already examined. John also details in I John what this means – that those who practice walking in righteousness (walking in obedience to God) are not necessarily walking in 100% obedience (because that is impossible), but in his letter he details the difference between living a lifestyle of striving for obedience to God verses returning to a lifestyle of sin.

We do not practice sin, yet we will sin from time to time; but as long as we remain “fighting the good fight” and striving for obedience in all things, we remain abiding in Him and I John 1:7 tells us that in doing so, we will have the continual application of the blood of Christ to our lives.

 

 

***

And by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. Whoever says “I know Him” but does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps His word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in Him. (I John 2:3-5 ESV)

 

Again, we know that we abide in God (Christ) by walking in obedience to His New Covenant commandments in Christ.

There is a synergistic working within us as we strive to walk in obedience to God that brings us into such intimacy with Him that through obedience we come to know Him on a personal level. We can see this not only in this passage, but also in Mat. 7:21-23.

 

 

***

But the anointing that you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as His anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie–just as it has taught you, abide in Him. (I John 2:27 ESV)

 

The Scriptures and the Spirit teaches us that we remain abiding in Christ only by walking in obedience to Him (as well as partaking of Christ through communion). There is no other way to remain abiding in Him.

 

 

***

No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and His love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. (I John 4:12-13 ESV)

 

Again, if we love one another (the second commandment of the New Covenant of God in Christ) then we abide in Him and He will remain abiding in us.

“he has given us of His Spirit” in the Greek actually literally reads, “He has given us OUT OF His Spirit,” meaning not the Holy Spirit Himself, but here John refers to experiencing the gifts of the Spirit. He is saying that we know that we have the Spirit because we experience either the operation of the gifts of the Spirit in our lives, or we experience growth in the Fruit of the Spirit.

We know this because…of the experiential results of the indwelling Spirit within us – that is, the gifts of the Spirit in operation in our lives (I Cor. 12:7), that “the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one” or in experiencing the Fruit of the Spirit. If one does not experience the manifestation of the Spirit in his life, either through the gifts or fruit of the Spirit, then John says that he doesn’t abide in God and therefore doesn’t have the Spirit of God – which is why he doesn’t manifest any of these spiritual manifestations.

This is blasphemy to some people (particularly to calvinists and other Reformed persons) because they don’t manifest any of the gifts of the Spirit outlined in I Cor. 12:7 – because of their false teachings. Their false teachings prevent them from walking in obedience to God, prevents them from abiding in Christ, and so it also prevents them from having the Holy Spirit within them. Some time after getting saved (if they ever did get saved) they cease to have the Spirit indwelling them because they are taught that “its all by grace and faith alone, you should walk in obedience to God out of gratitude, but it is not necessary in order to have eternal life.”

Therefore, since they do what they are taught, they fail to walk in obedience to God, and in doing so they forfeit all of the gifts and promises of God because they are no longer abiding in Christ, God’s living New Covenant of promise.

 

 

***

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. (I John 4:16 ESV)

 

John here repeats himself now for the sixth time, both with similar words and in different terminology – when something is repeated that many times we need to understand that it is rock solid in God’s mind that that is how it is.

 

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ETERNAL LIFE IS FOUND ONLY “IN CHRIST”

All of the following passages say the same thing – eternal life (sometimes addressed simply as “life”) is found only in Christ. The implication here is that one has eternal life only if he is abiding in Christ – if he ceases to walk in obedience to God then he ceases to abide in Christ, and he forfeits his standing as having eternal life.

 

And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. (I John 5:11 – 12 ESV)

 

The ramifications here are all inclusive, John is not making a distinction here between the saved and unsaved. He is saying point blank that regardless of getting saved in the past, if one is not abiding in Christ (having the Son – I John 3:23-24) then he no longer has eternal life.

 

 

***

In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. (John 1:4)

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:53 – 54 ESV)

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6 ESV)

 

The statement here that Jesus makes, “No one comes to the Father except through Me,” is a direct reference to Him being the living New Covenant. God does not engage with anyone who is not in covenant relationship with Him, simply because the atonement is a covenant article, and no one can come to God without atonement.

Those who come to God on His terms (covenant) receive atonement in Christ – and because of this, Christ is our life, just as God was the life of His people under the Old Covenant system.

 

 

***

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together in Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, (Colossians 2:13 ESV)

 

We only have life (eternal life) if we are in Christ.

 

 

***

For you have died, and your life is hidden in Christ in God. (Colossians 3:3 ESV)

 

Again, we only have eternal life if we are abiding in Christ.

 

 

***

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus, (II Timothy 1:1 ESV)

 

Again, the covenant promise of eternal life is found only “in Christ.”

 

 

***

And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. (I John 5:20 ESV)

 

John says it here succinctly – Jesus Christ is not only God in the flesh, He is by virtue of that fact, our very life…our eternal life. We either abide in Him (life) and have life, or we cease to remain abiding in Him by ceasing to walk in obedience to Him, and so forfeit having eternal life.

 

 

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KNOWING GOD / CHRIST

This section is based upon the following two passages that make knowing God/Christ one of the conditions for making it to the consummation of eternal life in heaven:

 

 

And this is the purpose for eternal life, that they may come to know You personally, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. (John 17:3 ESV)

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and cast out demons in Your name, and do many mighty works in Your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Matthew 7:21-23 ESV)

 

Jesus says very clearly in John 17:3 that those who are given eternal life, are given it for a specific purpose – and it is NOT given as a ticket into heaven. He says that we are given eternal life for the purpose of being qualified to enter into God’s presence in order to spend time with Him and get to know Him personally. In the way that He uses the term “eternal life” here, it does not mean living forever, but rather it is a legal covenant term meaning that one is in covenant relationship with God.

In Mat. 7:21-23 Jesus states that only those who walk in obedience to God will make it to the consummation of eternal life, yet another condition to attaining it. But He also continues in the prophetic teaching to include knowing Him and vice versa, Him coming to know us.

In detail, those in verse 22 who are performing miracles in Jesus’ name are in legal covenant relationship with God in Christ, because that is the only way a person has the authority and power to be able to do miracles in His name. They were saved, born again, and walking with God in covenant relationship…they had eternal life – BUT they failed to utilize the purpose for them being given that eternal life. They failed to spend personal time with God in order to come to know Him personally, and for Him to get to know them personally. Thus Jesus says that He will tell them, “I never knew you…”

This must be clearly understood – it was NOT walking in obedience to God that let them into heaven, that was just a prerequisite. It was NOT performing miracles in His name or even having eternal life that got them through the gates of heaven. It isn’t what we have, and it isn’t what we do…it is who we know and who knows us. Reformed theology is dead wrong in its carnal assertion that “its all by grace and faith alone,” because no amount of faith…no amount of grace, will get us into heaven. Only knowing and loving on God will get us into heaven after all the other prerequisites are met.

 

 

***

Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But He answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.‘ (Matthew 25:11-12 ESV)

 

Here again, Jesus says in a prophetic parable that only those who come to know Him, and that He comes to know personally, will be allowed through the gates of heaven.

 

 

***

22 Jesus went on His way through towns and villages, teaching and journeying toward Jerusalem. 23 And someone said to Him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And He said to them, 24 “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25 When once the Master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then He will answer you, ‘You are not related to Me, where do you come from?’ 26 Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.’ 27 But He will say, ‘I tell you, You are not related to Me, where do you come from? Depart from Me, all you workers of evil!’” (Luke 13:22-27 ESV)

 

In verses 25 and 27 the ESV renders the phrase “You are not related to Me” as “I do not know where you come from.” That is a direct translation of the words in Greek according to strict dictionary definition, but the metaphorical implied meaning here has been ignored. In Greek, combinations of words can change the meaning of the main verb, in this case the verb for “know” is oida, which is preceded by the particle ouk (not). When the wording is such (ouk oida), the verb takes on a relational meaning.

The phrase is more accurately translated as saying, “You are not related to Me.” The direct correlation here is found in Christ’s answer to the one who told Him that His mother and brothers were outside waiting for Him, to speak to Him:  Matthew 12:50 “For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.” If one is not walking in obedience to God, regardless of whether he had at one time in the past been saved from his sin, then he is not in relationship with Jesus, and that being the case, he will be found outside the door when it is shut.

However, the Greek rendering also has another equally valid meaning, when translated as “I do not know you” in some versions, the second phrase is horribly butchered. Rather than “I do not know from where you come,” a more accurate rendering of the Greek according to its grammar reads: “I do not know you, where have you been?” The direct implication is the question, “where have you been,” implying that they were not spending time with Him in order to get to know Him, which is why He will say, “I do not know you.”

 

 

***

I am the good shepherd. I know My own and My own know Me, (John 10:14 ESV)

 

This last verse will take a little more explanation, because we have to look at another verse within its context in order to get what Jesus is saying here accurately…

 

 

***

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. (John 10:27 ESV)

 

In the actual Greek with its grammar, the text above reads a little differently – and it is a difference that makes a difference…

“My sheep – they pay attention to My voice and obey Me; and I know, approve of, love, and care for them, and they follow Me in trusting obedience.”

Another verse written by Paul also sheds important light on interpreting John 10:14…

 

And those who have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires, they belong to Christ Jesus. (Galatians 5:24 ESV)

 

Who belongs to Jesus? Those who walk in obedience to Him. Why are the sheep His sheep? Because they walk in obedience to Him and have come to know Him through that walk. Jesus has come to know ‘His sheep” because they walk in obedience to Him – there is a synergetic working and intimate relationship between walk in obedience to God and coming to know Him.

From what we glean from Scripture in the NT, one cannot come to know God unless he is walking in obedience to Him, particularly since the primary word in the Greek for knowing God means that we come to know Him completely through personal relationship with Him. If one is not walking in obedience to God, then he has no personal relationship with Him and he cannot come to know us experientially.

We observe the same in the OT when God identifies those who are His. He says repeatedly that if we walk in obedience to Him, then we are His people and He will be our God. Faith does not do that…grace does not do that…they both precede obedience, but neither of them make us God’s people.

 

 

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Loving God / Christ

The main point of this section is intimated within the following two header texts:

 

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him. (James 1:12 ESV)

Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which He has promised to those who love Him? (James 2:5 ESV)

 

The premise is very clear: God has promised eternal life (represented by the metonym of “the crown of life”) to those “who love Him,” as well as promising that those “who love Him” are heirs to the Kingdom of God – heaven.

This does not discount grace, faith, obedience, coming to know Him, etc., they are all prerequisites – but the main thing, the point of culmination of all other things, is loving God. And as we have seen in an earlier section, we love on God in two areas of life: we love Him emotionally from the heart; and we love on Him by walking in obedience to Him.

As John says in I John, we can claim to both know and love God (emotionally) all we want, but if we are not walking in obedience to Him, then our claims are found to be bogus lies. To be sure, some people honestly believe that loving God from the heart (that is, loving Him emotionally) keeps them in His good graces…but as James states in Jam. 1:22, if we are not walking in obedience to what God tells us to do in His Word, then we deceive ourselves into thinking that we are OK with God, when in fact we are on the broad road to eternal flames. This includes all people, meaning those who have been saved and born again in the past.

 

 

***

If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. (John 14:15 ESV)

 

This passage should be self-explanatory: those who love Jesus (or God) are those who walk in obedience to Their Word. Those who do so, abide in Them and have eternal life; those who do not – even if they have received salvation in the past – do not have eternal life.

 

 

***

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put Him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And He said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” (Luke 10:25-28 ESV)

 

First, we need to put to rest that this singular passage in Luke does not have parallel passages in Matthew or Mark. Matthew 19:16-19, Mark 10:17-31, and Luke 18:18-39 are parallel accounts of the rich young ruler, and have nothing to do with Luke 10:25-28 (because some commentators link these passages with Luke 10:25-28, which in my mind demonstrates an untrustworthy acumen on their parts).

Second, Matthew 22:35-40 is the closest account, but when we examine thoroughly all three Synoptics, it is close but not the same. The parallel for this passage is Mark 12:28-34, and while Matthew chapter 22, Mark chapter 12, and Luke chapter 20 are parallel in almost every way (1.  Pharisees ask Jesus about paying taxes to Caesar; 2.  Sadducees ask about the resurrection; 3.  a different person in different accounts asks about the Greatest Commandment; 4.  Jesus stumps all by asking “Whose Son is the Christ?”), the Luken account is missing the question about the Greatest Commandment.

Third, the closest account is Matthew 22:35-40 but it only has two similarities, while having three differences. The similarities are:

  1. Jesus is questioned by a lawyer.
  2. The answer to the question is found in quoting Deut. 6:5 and Lev. 19:18.

 

The differences are found in:

  1. The situations –

Matthew’s account has the whole chapter teaching in conflict with the Sanhedrin (the four accounts listed in the second paragraph above).

Luke’s account chapter has Jesus sending out the 72 in pairs, them returning, the                dialogue in question, and ends with the parable of the good Samaritan and Mary                and Martha (Mary listening to Jesus, Martha complaining about her not helping her          get dinner ready).

  1. The questions –

Matthew has the question, “What is the greatest commandment?”

Luke has the question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”

  1. The mode of getting to the answer –

Matthew’s account has Jesus answering the question by quoting Deut. 6:5 and Lev.                                       19:18.

Luke’s account has Jesus asking the lawyer to answer his own question, which he                                       does by quoting Deut. 6:5 and Lev. 19:18.

The Scriptural evidence seems to indicate that Luke 10:25-28 has no parallel passages in Matthew or Mark. The main reason for going into all this detail, is because many recourse to those passages in Matthew and Mark (mainly) where some of the 10 Commandments are given in answer – and that is not what takes place here in this account.

Conclusion – setting all of this peripheral information aside, Jesus says plainly in answer to the question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus says that those who love on God with all of their heart, soul, strength, and mind, will be those who will inherit eternal life. His answer directly insinuates obedience as part of the way that we are to love on God – but the main factor here is loving God.

A person can get saved and become born again, but if that person does not love God with their all, then they will never walk through the gates of heaven according to what the Scriptures teach cumulatively.

 

 

***

Whoever does not love Me does not keep My words. And the word that you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me. (John 14:24 ESV)

 

Jesus is very clear here…those who do not love Him will not walk in obedience to Him. We can also even re-word it thusly: those who do not walk in obedience to Him do not love Him, because this is spoken in other places (predominantly in I John) and implied in other texts. Plainly, loving God and walking in obedience to Him are intimately linked, just as knowing Him and walking in obedience to Him are intimately linked.

 

 

***

For this is how we love God, we keep His commandments, and His commandments are not burdensome. (I John 5:3 ESV)

 

John, writing under direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit, tells us that we love on God by walking in obedience to Him, to His two new commandments of the New Covenant. He does not mean walking in obedience to the 10 Commandments, because they are gone, abrogated and done away with by the New Covenant and its two new commandments: trusting faith in Christ, and loving on others (I John 3:23-24).

As James and Jesus have said, only those who love God will enter into the gates of heaven, they will be the only ones to make it to the consummation of eternal life in heaven. Even if a person got saved in the past, if that person does not love God (heart) or does not love on God (obedience), he will not make it.

 

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FAITH IS ONLY THE FIRST PREREQUISITE TO ETERNAL LIFE

 

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; but whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, because the wrath of God remains upon him. (John 3:36 ESV)

 

First, the words “believe” and “obey” in the Greek are in the Present Active Participle, meaning that the action of the verb is performed continuously or repeatedly, depending upon the context.

Second, John the Baptist is quite clear, one may have eternal life because he believes, but if he does not walk in obedience to Christ, he will never come to the consummation of eternal life in heaven.

Third, salvation is not based upon obedience – but salvation and eternal life are two entirely different things. Eternal life is based upon obedience, which is why it is conditional.

Fourth, some versions of the Bible say, “but whoever does not believe in the Son will not have life,” and this is a gross mishandling of the Greek. The word here is apeitheo, which can mean not to allow oneself to be persuaded, not believe, to disbelieve, or to be disobedient. In the Greek, as we touched upon earlier, the grammar plays a large part in the meaning of words. Here the word apeitheo is found with the Dative case of person, which makes its meaning that of being disobedient to the Son.

Those translations which say “do not believe” are not to be trusted, because the translators either do not know enough about the Greek language in order to do correct and accurate translation, or they purposely mistranslated the text in accord with their bias.

Here John gives us the clear picture (along with John 3:15-16) that believing is not the only prerequisite to attaining heaven, it is only the first condition, not the one and only condition. A person can believe in Christ until the cows come home, but if he is not walking in obedience to God, then he received salvation for nothing…he has received the grace of God in vain.

John 3:36 is indicative of one of two groups of passages addressing eternal life: Group “A” says that one who believes “has” (present tense) eternal life, and there are many of them. Group “B” speaks of eternal life in the future tense and always in the Subjunctive mood – meaning that attaining to the consummation of eternal life in heaven is a possibility, NOT a certainty. The uncertainty enters the picture in the Subjunctive because the action addressed is subject to certain conditions. Meeting those conditions brings about the action addressed, failing to meet those conditions causes the action addressed to not be attained.

 

 

***

But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12-13 ESV)

 

First, “the right to become children of God”: two things here – the word for “right” in the Greek is exousia, which means permission, authority, right, the power to do something, the ability to do something. In most cases, this authority, power, permission, right and ability comes to a person by legal means (covenant). Because a person chooses to believe in Jesus, He gives them the right to “become” children of God…they are not children of God simply because they believe, that is not what the text says in either Greek or English (like some people teach today).

Second, the word for “become” is ginomai, meaning to begin to be, to come into existence, to enter into a state or condition; it implies origin, a result of something, or a change of state of being. When addressing people, it is also used for birth of a baby, or the new birth of the believer. Here it is in the Aorist Deponent Infinitive, meaning undefined action in the past (which could have taken place from eternity past to within seconds in the past…it is undefined, and which context must elucidate upon).

Third, the word for “believe” (pistis) is in the Present Active Participle, meaning that the action of believing is a continuous or repeated action. One only has the “right” to become a child of God as long as they continue placing their trust and faith in Christ for salvation.

Fourth, according to the full counsel of Scripture, faith is the first prerequisite (or first condition) to becoming a child of God; the second is repenting from one’s former lifestyle of sinful behavior. The third condition is receiving water baptism into Christ, where the new birth (regeneration) takes place as the Holy Spirit comes into the person to indwell.

Conclusion, contrary to the false teachings of Reformed theology, no one is born again or saved the moment they choose to believe in God/Christ, and there is no Scriptures to support that theory, and they only remain in that state of regeneration and having eternal life as long as they continue to place their faith and trust in Him.

 

 

***

that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life. (John 3:15 ESV)

 

First, the word for “may” in the text is implied by the grammar, because the word “have” in the Greek (echo), meaning to have or hold as a continuing possession, is in the Subjunctive mood. Again, the Subjunctive mood means that the action is a mere possibility, not a certainty.

Second, the Subjunctive in this text directly implies that there is at least one other condition besides believing that is required in order to attain to the consummation of eternal life in heaven.

 

 

***

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

 

First, the word for “believes” (pistis) is in the Present Active Participle, meaning that whoever ‘believes and continues to believe,’ continuously placing their faith and trust in Christ. Therefore, if a person ceases to do so, then he also ceases to have eternal life, facts which shoddy translations into the English do not portray.

Second, “should not” comes from the words meh – a negative particle meaning a dependent and conditional negation (in other words, the fact that the subject matter might be negated solely depends upon the meeting, or failure of performance, of some condition or conditions); and apollumi, meaning to destroy or perish. Because it is in the Subjunctive mood – it takes on the meaning that the action of being destroyed or perishing is a possibility, not a certainty. Together they are accurately rendered in English as “should not perish,” meaning that they will perish if the condition(s) are not met, but they will not perish if they meet that condition or conditions.

Those translation teams which have translated “meh apollumi” as “shall not perish” are either morons when it comes to the Greek, or they are liars and deceivers who purposely ignore the grammar of the language in order to make the verse say what they want it to say according to their biases, rather than according to an accurate rendering of the Greek into English. When they translate it as “shall not perish” they ignore the grammar of the Greek, specifically, the Subjunctive mood. In doing so, they fail to translate the original Greek text; they pervert the Scripture.

Third, once again, this text shows that faith is not the only condition that one must meet in order to receive salvation and continue to walk in eternal life.

 

 

***

For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. (John 6:40 ESV)

 

First, the grammar here is the same on all counts: “believes” is pistis in the Present Active Participle, meaning that one must believe and continue to believe and place their trust in Christ, if they cease to do so, then they no longer have eternal life even after getting saved.

Second, the words “should have” come from the Greek “echo” (to have or hold, implying continued possession of something) which is in the Subjunctive mood – meaning a mere possibility, not a certainty. Again, that possible action is based upon meeting some condition or conditions, in this text it directly implies that there is at least one other condition that must be met besides believing…but in this text that other condition(s) is not elucidated upon.

 

 

***

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name. (John 20:30-31 ESV)

 

First, John articulates it well here: “by believing you may have life in His name,” in which statement he is addressing the future consummation of eternal life in heaven, NOT eternal life present. Those statements which intend eternal life present are not written in the Subjunctive mood, only those addressing eternal life future.

Second, “believing” is the word pistis in the Present Active Participle, meaning continued or repeated action (in English here represented by the -ing ending). The direct implication is that one only has the possibility of having eternal life as long as he continues to believe and place his trust in Christ.

Third, the word “may” is the Greek “echo” (to have or hold, implying continued possession of something) which is in the Subjunctive mood – meaning a mere possibility, not a certainty. Again, that possible action is based upon meeting some condition or conditions, in this text it directly implies that there is at least one other condition that must be met besides believing…but in this text that other condition(s) is not elucidated upon.

 

 

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Passages dealing with the Holy Spirit

In this section, it is important to remember that covenant principle comes into play, and that this principle must be applied because the indwelling Holy Spirit is a covenant gift, given only to those who are currently abiding in the New Covenant of God in Christ. A person no longer has the indwelling Spirit of God if they cease to remain abiding in Christ, because the gifts of the covenant are relegated ONLY to those who are participants in the covenant.

 

And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.” (Acts 5:32 ESV)

 

First, taking all of the factors into account, the phrase “has given” here (didomi – to give) is in the Aorist Active Indicative, meaning undefined action in the past. Furthermore, because the text indirectly references the New Covenant by which the Holy Spirit is given to believers in the covenant, the text means that God gave the Holy Spirit to those who would be in the covenant as a decree in eternity past.

Second, the word for “obey” is peitharcheo, which literally means to obey. It is in the Present Active Participle with the Dative case, meaning (literally) “in obedience to Him.” The grammar – which cannot be ignored for proper and accurate translation – directly implies that one only has the indwelling Holy Spirit in their lives as long as they walk in obedience to God.

Third, the conclusion above in italics, is a verification of the covenant principle that states the gifts given to us by God in the New Covenant are only our possession as long as we remain abiding in that covenant in Christ. If we cease to remain abiding in Christ, then we cease to have the Spirit of God indwelling within us.

The doctrine that states otherwise, came from those in the past who were listening to the whisperings of seducing spirits, giving rise to doctrines of demons, just as Paul warns us about.

 

 

***

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Him. (Romans 8:9 ESV)

 

First, Paul is addressing Christians here, not unbelievers. Reformed theology likes to discount this and say that Paul was only addressing unbelievers when it comes to the statement that he makes here. They say this in order to defend their false teachings.

Second, Paul says here “IF in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you…” He says “if” because he does not teach OSAS false doctrine; he says “if” because a person can cease to walk in obedience to God, and therefore cease to have the Spirit dwelling within him.

Third, he say to the believers, “anyone who does not have the Spirit of God does not belong to Him,” for two reasons: (1) because if someone who got saved ceased to walk in obedience to God, then he no longer has the indwelling Spirit; and (2) because if someone did cease to walk in obedience to God, they are no longer in the New Covenant in Christ – which means that since the New Covenant is the legal instrument by which God adopts us to Himself…such a person is no longer God’s child because he is no longer abiding in the covenant.

 

 

***

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. (Romans 8:14 ESV)

 

Paul says pretty much the same thing here only in different words. The word “led” here is ago, meaning (metaphorically) that one is following someone, in this case the Spirit of God. It is in the Present Passive Indicative meaning that such a person is being guided by the Spirit of God, it echoes the Proverbs where we read that a righteous man’s footsteps are ordered by the Lord, He directs such a person’s life. God does not dictate every single event that takes place in a person’s life, but rather leads that person in important things, great or small.

In conjunction with its context, Paul is saying here that the person who is making the conscious effort to be walking in the Spirit will be led by the Spirit; those who are still walking in the flesh, minding (thinking about, consumed with) the things of the flesh, even after getting saved, cannot please God and are walking in death. John alludes to the same thing in I John.

If a person is not being led by the Spirit, it is because he is not walking in the Spirit. All this has obedience as the underlying issue or theme…which is why the person who is not being led by the Spirit (because he is not walking in the Spirit) is not currently a child of God, because from Genesis to Revelation, God says repeatedly that we are only His people IF we are walking in obedience to Him. He says repeatedly that He is only our God IF we are walking in obedience to Him…if we are walking in obedience to our own selfish desires – sinful or not – then we make ourselves our own god (and that means that we are playing into the hands of satan).

 

 

***

Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who is giving His Holy Spirit to you. (I Thessalonians 4:8 ESV)

 

First, “who gives His Holy Spirit to you” should read as “who is giving His Holy Spirit to you” or “who continues to give His Holy Spirit to you,” because in the Greek, the word didomi (to give) is in the Present Active Participle, giving the word the meaning that God continuously gives His Spirit to us.

Second, in conjunction with other passages dealing with the indwelling Spirit (along with the covenant principle), God only continues to give His Spirit to us as long as we are walking in obedience to Him, thereby abiding in Christ, the living New Covenant of God. If a person ceases to walk in obedience to God, thereby ceasing to remain abiding in Christ, then he is no longer in covenant relationship with God and, therefore, forfeits having any of the gifts or promises of God accorded to us in the covenant. That means he no longer has the gift of the indwelling Spirit of God abiding in him.

In addition, some people have quoted Heb. 13:5 (He has said, “I will never leave you, or forsake you.”) in support of the idea that once a person has the Spirit of God, He will never leave them:

  1. Moses said those words (Deut. 31:6), not God.
  2. We can never forget the application of covenant principles to any text in the Scriptures, because most of Scripture is covenant articles as well as historical documents. Application of covenant principle here confirms that God will not leave anyone, or forsake anyone, as long as they are abiding in covenant relationship with Him. If someone ceases to do so, then they have left and forsaken Him.
  3. Quoting this verse in support of the false doctrine that the Spirit will always be with us, is straight up deception on the part of the person telling this to others – which does not discount the fact that they themselves just might be deceived into believing this unscriptural nonsense.
  4. This is adequately modeled in the fact of the historical record: Moses told this to Israel just before he died and they entered into the promised land, then in Joshua chapter 7 we find that God did leave and forsake Israel, manifest at the battle of Ai with Israel’s defeat. God tells Joshua that He is no longer with them because someone had violated the covenant by stealing things that were devoted to God (God’s tithe), and He was not with Israel again until after they dealt with that particular sin.

 

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Other passages addressing the subject matter:

 

But the one who endures to the end will be saved. (Matthew 24:13 ESV)

 

In context, Jesus is here saying that those who endure in the Christian faith, meaning those who walk in obedience, love, and personal relationship with Him until their last breath, will make it to the consummation of eternal life in heaven.

 

 

***

When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. (Acts 14:21-22 ESV)

 

A person only has eternal life as long as they continue to walk in obedience to the dictates of the system of faith called Christianity. Here the word for faith (pistis) is being used objectively, giving it the meaning of the doctrines and received articles of the faith. This is why they encouraged them to “continue in the faith” because they can stop walking in the faith at any time. If it was not possible to cease walking in the faith, then they would not have told these Christians to continue to do so.

 

 

***

For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (Romans 8:13 ESV)

 

First, Paul is speaking to born again, saved people here.

Second, he comes right out and tells them that regardless of the fact that they have been saved in the past, if they walk in accordance to obedience to the flesh, they will die. He does not mean die physically like some Calvinist teachers try to make us believe, because that is nonsense. All men die because of sin already; he specifically addresses spiritual death, because that is what sin brings. Spiritual death is separation from God, and our sin separates us from God; therefore, when we begin living a lifestyle of sinful behavior, we separate ourselves from God and die spiritually.

Third, Paul says that only by walking in the Spirit (which means walking in obedience to the leading of the Spirit and focusing our minds on spiritual godly things) will a person live. By saying “you will live” he specifically addresses one making it to the future consummation of eternal life in heaven.

 

 

***

And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:24 ESV)

 

First, the Greek isn’t worded like this. When it is rendered accurately, it reads:

And those who have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires, they belong to Christ Jesus.

Second, it is clear by the correct wording, that only those who crucify their own desires and passions, whether sinful or not, in order to walk in obedience to Christ, belong to Christ. This echoes the same sentiment from God in the OT when we read…

 

But this command I gave them: ‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people. And walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.’ (Jeremiah 7:23 ESV)

that I commanded your fathers when I brought them out of the land of Egypt, from the iron furnace, saying, Listen to My voice, and do all that I command you. So shall you be My people, and I will be your God, (Jeremiah 11:4 ESV)

 

God is clear: we are only His people IF we walk in obedience to Him. He is our God only if we are walking in obedience to Him. In NT terms, that means crucifying our wants and desires so that we can walk in obedience to Him – which is exactly what Jesus taught.

If a person gets saved, but then fails or ceases to continue walking in obedience to God in Christ, then he forfeits his eternal life and is on his way to eternal flames.

 

 

***

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, (Philippians 2:12 ESV)

 

First, Paul uses the term “salvation” here as a metonym for eternal life, he is not addressing being delivered from sin. We know this because of how he uses the term in the passage, because no one can “work out” his own salvation (no one can forgive himself of his sins against God, only God can forgive us).

Second, as other passages also ratify, we do maintain our own status as having eternal life, because it is based upon the conditional principle of walking in obedience to God. Paul here is telling us that we need to continue walking in obedience to God in order to have eternal life. Remember that salvation from sin, and eternal life, are NOT the same thing.

 

 

***

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the Faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. (II Timothy 4:7-8 ESV)

 

Paul says that he had “kept the faith” directly implying that he had walked in obedience and relationship to God as taught in the Scriptures. He says because of that, he would receive a “crown of righteousness” on the day of judgment when he stands before God.

The phrase “the crown of righteousness” is figurative as the symbol of the reward of eternal life, and Paul says that receiving that crown (symbolic of making it to the consummation of eternal life in heaven) is a direct result of keeping the Faith – that is, a result of walking in obedience to the dictates of the Christian faith.

 

 

***

Strive earnestly for peace with everyone, and for the holiness, apart from which no one will see the Lord. (Hebrews 12:14 ESV)

 

Here Apollos is speaking to Christians, those who have been saved and born again, and he tells them point blank that if they do not strive to walk in holiness, even though they got saved they will not see the Lord.

The phrase “no one will see the Lord” is figurative for walking with Him in heaven. All people will see Him on judgment day, but those who are cast into the Lake of Fire will never behold His face again. This is what he refers to.

 

 

***

You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (James 4:4 ESV)

 

First, James is speaking and writing to Christians, saved born again believers.

Second, no one who is an enemy of God will enter into heaven and have eternal life.

Here James echoes Paul’s thoughts in Rom. 8 when he says that if a Christian walks in obedience to his fleshly lusts and desires, he will die spiritually.

 

 

***

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (I John 2:15 ESV)

 

First, James tells us in two different places (which we have already examined) that God has promised eternal life and the kingdom of heaven only to those who love Him.

Second, John here is speaking to Christians, and this is a command in the Greek. He is telling his audience not to love the things of the world, because if they do, sooner or later they will abandon God and go back into the world, just like Demas did (II Tim. 4:10).

Conclusion: if one gets saved, but does not love God, he will not make it to the consummation of eternal life in heaven.

 

 

***

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of Him. (I John 5:1 ESV)

 

First, we must deal with the phrase “born of God” because the Greek meaning is skewed in the translation. The words here in the Greek are “ek tou Theo gegennetai” (ek tou qeou gegennhtai) which would literally translate into English as “was born out of God” (when we take into consideration the grammar).

Second, the phrase ek tou qeou gegennhtai in the Greek does not carry with it the same meaning as it would in English (that a person once born continues living), which it would mean in the simple Genitive. However, here the preposition “ek” (out of, from) gives it the meaning of something coming from God, in this case, a new spiritual life.

Third, the word for “believes” (pistis) is in the Present Active Participle, again meaning action that is continuous or repeated. Together in the context here, John says that whoever continues placing his faith and trust in Christ, will continue to receive a new spiritual life from God.

Once again, as long as one continues to believe and trust in Christ and (in conjunction with the other passages we have already examined) continue to walk in obedience to Him, that person continues to have new spiritual life from God. If that person ceases to walk in obedient faith and trust in Christ, then he ceases to have that new spiritual life from God.

 

 

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Passages “once saved, always saved” people use in their argument…

 

In this section, a majority of the explanations against why the following passages speak of unconditional eternal security, is based upon proper and complete application of a complete Biblical Hermeneutic (the principles of proper Biblical interpretation), which includes reading the Scriptures through the interpretive lens of covenant – because whether we are talking about the OT or the NT, neither one of them are actually testaments. They are, in fact, covenants, and when we fail to interpret them as covenant documents, then we skew their intended meaning and develop our own brands of false teachings and false doctrines. Therefore, we will now address the operating principles of Ancient Near Eastern covenants so that you can see where such explanations originate from:

Principle 1.  A covenant was not in force until after both parties agreed to all of the elements, terms, stipulations, promises, blessings, benefits, gifts and obligations of the covenant agreement, and then inaugurated and ratified the covenant relationship. At that point all elements of the covenant were legally binding upon all parties involved. This principle did not apply in suzerain-vassal type covenants, as the suzerain dictated all of the stipulations of the covenant to his vassal, who (as the conquered king) had no say in the matter.

Principle 2.  Once the covenant had been entered into by both parties, no alteration could take place unless both parties agreed to such an alteration, usually in response to some unforeseen variable at the time of the inauguration of the covenant.

Principle 3.  Entering into covenant established not only a binding legal relationship between both parties, but was also recognized as the establishment of such a strong relationship, that most covenantal cultures considered it more binding than familial relationships.

Principle 4.  The terms, stipulations, promises, blessings, benefits, and gifts of the covenant are only applicable to those who are participants in that specific covenant, as long as they remained participants in that specific covenant. If a person ceased to remain abiding in the covenant, then he ceased to be a participant, and he ceased to be a recipient of those terms, stipulations, promises, blessings, benefits, and gifts.

Principle 5.  All of the elements of the covenant in question, whether terms, stipulations, promises, benefits, and gifts, or obligations, were to be interpreted solely from within the context of the covenant from which they originated. Like a modern day contract, the covenant is self-explanatory, self-interpreting. The covenant itself sets the boundaries for any and all interpretation of terms that it lays out.

Principle 6.  None of the obligations of the covenant were legally binding upon the participants until after the covenant had been inaugurated, and then ratified. Typically, the inauguration ceremony was the walking between the halves of the dead animals while uttering an imprecatory oath; while the ratification ceremony was typically the covenant meal after all was worked out and agreed to (the sacrificial animals were the meat that the meal consisted of – the sharing of the meal brought the participants into a shared life).

 

All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and whoever comes to Me I will never cast out. (John 6:37 ESV)

 

This is a favorite verse for Calvinists to use, however, they take it out of context of the WHOLE Word of God.

First, the main covenant principle that directly affects every passage of Scripture in the Bible, that Calvinists (and others) ignore the most, is principle #4 – which states that every word of the Bible only has direct meaning to those who are abiding in the New Covenant (in this case) of God in Christ. Recall that Isa. 42:6 and 49:8 clearly state that Jesus Christ is God’s living New Covenant; therefore, not only every word that He uttered in teaching has covenant significance, but every word the NT writers penned also, receiving it from the Holy Spirit of Christ.

When applying principle #4 to this verse, as God expects us to, Jesus says that no one who comes to Him will ever be cast out as long as they remain abiding in Him. If they cease to remain abiding in Him (the living New Covenant of God), then they cease to have anything that God promises to us in and through the New Covenant. This includes eternal life.

Second, in John 15:1-2 we read:

 

I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. (John 15:1-2 ESV)

 

First, the words “takes away” in Greek is the word airo, which basically means to take up, lift up, to raise in separation. Here it takes on the figurative meaning of to cut off and remove, usually with the idea of authoritative violence.

Second, Jesus upholds His words in John 6:37 above, because He says “I will never cast out,” but the one who is doing the cutting and removing here is not Jesus, it is His Father. God will remove those who fail to walk in obedience to Him and bear fruit of a righteous and holy life, not Jesus.

Third, in Revelation chapter 2 and 3 we consistently see the glorified Christ telling the churches that there are some who are going to be blotted out of the Book of Life unless they get their act together and start walking in obedience to Him, particularly in Rev. 3:1-6. All three counts demonstrate that John 6:37 does NOT teach unconditional eternal security.

 

 

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

 

First, the word for “believes” (pistis) is in the Present Active Participle, meaning that whoever ‘believes and continues to believe,’ continuously placing their faith and trust in Christ. Therefore, if a person ceases to do so, then he also ceases to have eternal life, facts which shoddy translations into the English do not portray.

Second, “should not” comes from the words meh – a negative particle meaning a dependent and conditional negation (in other words, the fact that the subject matter might be negated solely depends upon the meeting, or failure of performance, of some condition or conditions); and apollumi, meaning to destroy or perish. Because it is in the Subjunctive mood – it takes on the meaning that the action of being destroyed or perishing is a possibility, not a certainty. Together they are accurately rendered in English as “should not perish,” meaning that they will perish if the condition(s) are not met, but they will not perish if they meet that condition or conditions.

Those translation teams which have translated “meh apollumi” as “shall not perish” are either morons when it comes to the Greek, or they are liars and deceivers who purposely ignore the grammar of the language in order to make the verse say what they want it to say according to their biases, rather than according to an accurate rendering of the Greek into English. When they translate it as “shall not perish” they ignore the grammar of the Greek, specifically, the Subjunctive mood. In doing so, they fail to translate the original Greek text; they pervert the Scripture.

Third, once again, this text shows that faith is not the only condition that one must meet in order to receive salvation and continue to walk in eternal life.

 

 

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Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears My word and believes him who sent Me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. (John 5:24 ESV)

 

First, the word here for “believes” (pistis) is in the Present Active Participle, meaning that one believes and continues to believe (placing their faith and trust in Christ), directly implying that if one ceases to place their faith and trust in Him, that they will no longer have eternal life. That is a direct statement in confirmation that OSAS is a false doctrine.

Second, we again must interpret the text through the lens of covenant and covenant principles, which principle #4 has direct implications upon. This passage only pertains to those who remain abiding in Christ, and if such a person ceases to walk in obedience to Him, thereby severing themselves from covenant relationship with God, then that person effectively cuts himself off from having eternal life because eternal life is only found in covenant relationship with God.

Therefore, this passage does NOT teach OSAS false doctrine.

 

 

***

And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that I should lose nothing of all that He has given Me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. (John 6:39-40 ESV)

 

First, both instances of the use of the word “should” is a direct result of the Greek grammar in which the words “lose” and “have” are in the Subjunctive mood, meaning possibility, NOT certainty. That means that it is possible that He will lose them through their own inaction or actions, and that they can cut themselves off from having eternal life.

Second, the word for “believes” here (pistis) is again in the Present Active Participle, meaning that the action of believing and placing our trust in Christ must be continuous. If one ceases to place his trust and faith in Christ, then he ceases to have eternal life.

Third, what Jesus is saying in these two verses is that God desires that none of those whom He has given to Christ will fall away. Calvinists are notorious for reading into the text what is not there, and claim that since God doesn’t want them to fall away, that He will cause them to not fall away. However, they shoot themselves in the foot by saying that, because we see other passages like         I Timothy 2:3-4 that tells us that “God…desires that all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

Continuing in their unsound logic, if what they say is true concerning John 6:39 then we also have to apply that logic to I Tim. 2:3-4, in which case their flaky interpretation means that since God desires that all people get saved, then that means God has saved all people and that everyone is going to heaven. We know that this is not the case (universalism), therefore when we apply sound logic to John 6:39 we know that the Calvinist argument is in great error.

Fourth, we come to the covenant principle #4 again, and when applied to this passage like it is supposed to be, we find once again that what Jesus says directly implies that those who have eternal life will only remain standing in that state of being (of having eternal life) as long as they remain abiding in Christ. If one ceases to do so, then he cuts himself off from Christ and from having eternal life. He doesn’t “lose” is salvation (because salvation and eternal life are two entirely different things), but he can either lay eternal life down, or consciously walks away from it.

 

 

***

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. (John 6:47 ESV)

 

First, whenever Scripture addresses eternal life, it always addresses it either as a present state of being, or as a future consummation in heaven. Here, it speaks of eternal life present.

Second, when addressing the future consummation of eternal life in heaven, it speaks of a relationship with God in eternity that will never end. But when it speaks of eternal life present, it does not mean the Calvinist misinterpretation of living forever, that one has eternal salvation. There is no Scripture in the Bible that teaches that salvation is an eternal state of being; therefore, to imply that salvation means an eternal state of being is a lie, a perversion of the Scriptures, a false teaching. Confusion between eternal life present and eternal life future brings wide spread false ideologies into our interpretations of Scripture.

Third, the word for “believes” here (pistis) is again in the Present Active Participle, meaning that the action of believing and placing our trust in Christ must be continuous. If one ceases to place his trust and faith in Christ, then he ceases to have eternal life.

Fourth, we come to the covenant principle #4 again, and when applied to this passage like it is supposed to be, we find once again that what Jesus says directly implies that those who have eternal life will only remain standing in that state of being (of having eternal life) as long as they remain abiding in Christ. If one ceases to do so, then he cuts himself off from Christ and from having eternal life. He doesn’t “lose” is salvation (because salvation and eternal life are two entirely different things), but he can either lay eternal life down, or consciously walks away from it.

 

 

***

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:53 – 54 ESV)

 

First, here Jesus is basically saying that unless we partake of Him (in this specific case, through taking Communion, the covenant meal of the New Covenant), we do not have eternal life. This is another condition to having eternal life: faith, repentance, obedience, and partaking of Communion (note that this is NOT conditions for getting saved, as obedience and Communion have nothing to do with receiving salvation from sin).

Second, He addresses eternal life in the present tense here; whoever partakes of Him, participating in Him, has eternal life. Once again, eternal life here (as in John 17:3) does NOT mean living for eternity; it is a covenant legal term for being in covenant relationship with God in Christ.

Third, saying that “unless you eat…My flesh and drink My blood,” stipulates that even a person who got saved in the past will cease to have eternal life unless he participates in Christ in this manner.

Fourth, we come to the covenant principle #4 again, and when applied to this passage like it is supposed to be, we find once again that what Jesus says directly implies that those who have eternal life will only remain standing in that state of being (of having eternal life) as long as they remain abiding in Christ. If one ceases to do so, then he cuts himself off from Christ and from having eternal life. He doesn’t “lose” is salvation (because salvation and eternal life are two entirely different things), but he can either lay eternal life down, or consciously walks away from it.

 

 

***

This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is My flesh. (John 6:50-51 ESV)

 

First, both verses are not translated accurately according to the strict reading of the Greek text; they are accurately rendered accordingly:

This is the bread that comes from heaven, so that if anyone eats thereof, he may not die. I am the living bread that came out of heaven. If anyone eats from that bread he will live in the coming future age; and the bread that I will give in behalf of the world, is My flesh.

The key phrases in the ESV above, “may eat of it and not die,” and “he will live forever,” are not accurately reflecting the original Greek text. Because of this, it gives the “feel” of unconditional eternal security, where the original Greek does not.

Second, in the accurate rendering, the word for “die” (apothnesko) is in the Subjunctive mood, which is not necessarily ignored in the ESV, but which is misplaced in the word order, giving the reader the false idea that one can eat of it, and if he eats of it, he will not die. If there was a word in the text meaning “may” then there might be evidence for argument, but the word “may” comes directly from the Subjunctive for “die.” Therefore, I see this as gross mishandling of the text.

Third, “he will live in the coming future age” comes from the phrase, “zao eis ho aion” (literally, “future life into the age”). The word for “life” is zao, which is in the future tense; eis is the preposition that means “in, to, or into;” and aion means “age.” Aion is in the singular, meaning age, which is defined only by the context of the verse. In this case, Jesus gives life the future tense (which says nothing about the present), indicating that the age He refers to is the future age of life, eternal life in heaven.

Fourth, we come to the covenant principle #4 again, and when applied to this passage like it is supposed to be, we find once again that what Jesus says directly implies that those who have eternal life will only remain standing in that state of being (of having eternal life) as long as they remain abiding in Christ. If one ceases to do so, then he cuts himself off from Christ and from having eternal life. He doesn’t “lose” is salvation (because salvation and eternal life are two entirely different things), but he can either lay eternal life down, or consciously walks away from it.

This passage does NOT teach unconditional eternal security according to the original Greek text.

 

 

***

As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on Me, he also will live because of Me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever. (John 6:57-58 ESV)

 

Again, we must apply covenant principle #4…

 

 

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My sheep listen to and obey My voice, and I come to know them, and they follow Me in trusting obedience. And I give to them eternal life, and they shall not perish in the next age, and no one can take them out of My hand by force. My Father who gave them to Me is greater than all, and no one is able to take them by force out of the Father’s hand. (John 10:27-29 ESV)

 

First, this is a direct translation from the Greek which includes the grammar of the text, which most English translations do not carry over.

Second, those who are His sheep are those who walk in obedience to His voice. The word there for “listen” is akouo, meaning to hear, to listen to, to pay attention to and obey, give heed to and obey; and it is in the Present Active Indicative, meaning that those who are presently listening to, and obeying Him, are His sheep.

Third, the word for “follow” is akoloutheo, meaning to attend, to accompany, to follow; and figuratively to follow in trusting obedience, cleaving to the one being followed in obedience to his leading and in acting according to His teachings and example. Thus we render it as “they follow Me in trusting obedience.”

Fourth, the word for “give” in verse 28 is didomi, meaning to give, offer, present, impart, or grant, depending upon its context; it is also in the Present Active Indicative, meaning that Christ gives eternal life in the present as the person is His sheep. In conjunction with verse 27, He implies that He gives them eternal life as long as they continue to walk in trusting obedience to Him.

Fifth, the phrase “shall not perish” is the same as in John 3:16… “should not” comes from the words meh – a negative particle meaning a dependent and conditional negation (in other words, the fact that the subject matter might be negated solely depends upon the meeting, or failure of performance, of some condition or conditions); and apollumi, meaning to destroy or perish. Because it is in the Subjunctive mood – it takes on the meaning that the action of being destroyed or perishing is a possibility, not a certainty. Together they are accurately rendered in English as “should not perish,” meaning that they will perish if the condition(s) are not met, but they will not perish if they meet that condition or conditions.

Those translation teams which have translated “meh apollumi” as “shall not perish” are either morons when it comes to the Greek, or they are liars and deceivers who purposely ignore the grammar of the language in order to make the verse say what they want it to say according to their biases, rather than according to an accurate rendering of the Greek into English. Either way, such erroneous translations demonstrate (in my mind, anyway) that they cannot be trusted in giving us an accurate, unperverted rendering of the Scriptures. When they translate it as “shall not perish” they ignore the grammar of the Greek, specifically, the Subjunctive mood. In doing so, they fail to translate the original Greek text; they pervert the Scripture.

Sixth, the words “by force” that we render here come from the ignored grammar of the text, in the word harpazo, basically meaning to seize upon, to snatch away in an attitude of open violence. It generally denotes robbery of another person’s property, but it does not mean this exclusively; however, it does mean forcibly seizing upon, snatching away, to taking to oneself by violence. The point of this detail, is that Jesus implies that satan cannot take one of His out of His hand, like someone would snatch something out of your hand…if he “takes” it out of His hand, it would have to be through subtilty and cunning, through deception, causing the person to voluntarily cut himself off from Christ. It does not mean that a saved born again person cannot walk away from God.

Seventh, we must also apply covenant principle #4… and when applied to this passage like it is supposed to be, we find once again that what Jesus says directly implies that those who have eternal life will only remain standing in that state of being (of having eternal life) as long as they remain abiding in Christ. If one ceases to do so, then he cuts himself off from Christ and from having eternal life. He doesn’t “lose” is salvation (because salvation and eternal life are two entirely different things), but he can either lay eternal life down, or consciously walks away from it.

 

 

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Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live; and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26 ESV)

 

First, as always, the word “believes” (pistis) here is in the Present Active Participle, meaning that whoever believes and continues to believe. If one ceases to place his faith and trust in Christ, then he ceases to have eternal life.

Second, we must also apply covenant principle #4… and when applied to this passage like it is supposed to be, we find once again that what Jesus says directly implies that those who have eternal life will only remain standing in that state of being (of having eternal life) as long as they remain abiding in Christ. If one ceases to do so, then he cuts himself off from Christ and from having eternal life.

 

 

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You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He may give it to you. (John 15:16 ESV)

 

First, the problem with trying to use this verse to say that God chose a person “for salvation” and thus they will most definitely go to heaven because that is the purpose that God chose them for, is in great error for a number of reasons.

Jesus was speaking to His disciples whom He picked and chose to be His future apostles, He was NOT speaking to us today.

No where in the text or in its immediate context, is Jesus speaking about who gets eternal life (intimating by divine choice).

We must apply the fourth principle of covenanting to Jesus’ words… and when applied to this passage like it is supposed to be, we find once again that what Jesus says directly implies that those who have eternal life will only remain standing in that state of being (of having eternal life) as long as they remain abiding in Christ. If one ceases to do so, then he cuts himself off from Christ and from having eternal life.

 

 

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Since, therefore, we have now been justified by His blood, much more shall we be saved by Him from the wrath of God. (Romans 5:9 ESV)

 

The word for “wrath” here is orge, meaning anger as a state of mind (wrath). The problem here is that the text is speaking of anger…as a state of mind, NOT the results of that anger (punishment), and that is what most people believe this text is talking about. They wrongly believe that the text says that we are saved from the end results of our sin – hell, or the lake of fire, but that is not what the word means. You can be angry with someone in your mind and heart (wrath) but never follow through with dishing out the punishment that you desire to do to that person.

 

 

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For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39 ESV)

 

Calvinists love to use this verse as “evidence” for OSAS…the problem is that it has nothing to do with eternal life, at all. The text clearly states that nothing can separate us “from the love of God in Christ,” but we don’t get into heaven just because God loves us…if that was the case, then we would again be talking about universalism (everybody goes to heaven because God loves everybody), and that is a false doctrine. What Paul addresses here is the special filial love that God has for those who are part of His family, adopted to Himself through Christ the New Covenant.

 

 

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For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. (Romans 11:29 ESV)

 

First, the ESV does not accurately translate this verse; according to the grammar and sentence structure, the verse would accurately read as follows:

“Because the gifts and invitations of God are made without regret.”

In other words, God never regrets giving gifts or the invitation to come to Him for life.

Second, the word translated above as “irrevocable” is ametameletos, which means without repentance or regret, neither of which means irrevocable. Irrevocable means that something cannot be revoked or recalled, that it is impossible to repeal or annul, that something is unalterable. That is NOT what ametameletos means, not even figuratively.

 

 

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And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6 ESV)

 

First, Calvinists automatically assume that Paul the “good work in you” that God will bring to completion, is salvation or eternal life. However, taking the context of the passage – as well as the context of the entire letter – that is NOT what Paul speaks of.

Taking the full context of the letter into consideration, we find that what Paul addresses, and what he speaks of throughout the letter, is the Philippian church’s aid that they were sending to him in his time of financial need, which is spelled out in verses 10-18 in chapter 4.

Second, this “good work” is the same as all the other times in the NT Scriptures that we see the phrase used 19 times (“good work”, and “good works”), where it specifically addresses loving on others in need by meeting their needs as one has opportunity to do so (which Paul addresses in 4:10).

Even though this verse has nothing to do with eternal life, we still need to apply covenant principle #4… and when applied to this passage like it is supposed to be, we find once again that what Jesus says directly implies that those who have eternal life will only remain standing in that state of being (of having eternal life) as long as they remain abiding in Christ. If one ceases to do so, then he cuts himself off from Christ and from having eternal life.

 

 

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9 For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building. 10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw– 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. (I Corinthians 3:9-15 ESV)

 

This passage is often touted by Calvinists to teach OSAS, but that is only because they do not pay attention to the context (which is one of their biggest problems theologically). This passage does not address any and everyone, it is specific to ministers, particularly pastors. Paul says of himself and Apollos that they are ministers of God and that they have laid the foundation of the Christian faith to the readers, which is Christ.

Building upon that doctrinal foundation is NOT ‘works’ like so many claim, but Paul is speaking about the teachings of the ministers who come after the foundational truths of Christ have been laid. He says that if they teach false doctrines (wood, hay, straw) then they will be burned up, but if they build upon those foundational doctrines with other spiritual truths (gold, silver, precious stones), they will remain after the fire.

The last sentence (verse 15) is where the controversy over interpretation hits home, “though he himself will be saved.” However, as with all Scripture, we must take into consideration the WHOLE Word of God, which is another point Reformed theology fails on…

First, if said pastor teaches false doctrine to his congregation, which leads them into eternal flames instead of into God’s eternal arms, then I would not want to be standing in his shoes when he faces God on judgment day. Having said that, there are many variables that could be at work there, but I am confident in the opinion that if God sent such pastors people to correct them, but those pastors rejected that correction, then their blood is on their own hands.

Second, we must also apply covenant principle #4… and when applied to this passage like it is supposed to be, we find once again that what Jesus says directly implies that those who have eternal life will only remain standing in that state of being (of having eternal life) as long as they remain abiding in Christ. If one ceases to do so, then he cuts himself off from Christ and from having eternal life.

 

 

***

The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into His heavenly kingdom. To Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen. (II Timothy 4:18 ESV)

 

First, again we must take the WHOLE Word of God into account, and when we do, passages like Matthew 7:21-23; John 3:36, 15:1-6; and Romans 1:21-28 and the like, demonstrate that God will only “rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into His heavenly kingdom” if I remain abiding in Him, engage Him in personal relationship and come to know Him, and love Him by walking in obedience to Him.

Second, we must also apply covenant principle #4… and when applied to this passage like it is supposed to be, we find once again that what Jesus says directly implies that those who have eternal life will only remain standing in that state of being (of having eternal life) as long as they remain abiding in Christ. If one ceases to do so, then he cuts himself off from Christ and from having eternal life.

When we take all of these things into consideration like God expects us to, then this verse does not teach unconditional eternal security.

 

 

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who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (I Peter 1:5 ESV)

 

This is another verse that Calvinists assign an erroneous interpretation to because they don’t pay attention to what the verse actually says – in the same way that they cherry pick passages that they think supports their false doctrines, they cherry pick words in verse to cling to…and to ignore.

For example, they ignore the phrase “through faith” in this text. First, the text says that we are guarded for salvation (here used again metonymically for eternal life) through faith…the direct implication upon the face of it, is that if you are in the faith then you are so guarded, but if you cease to walk in the faith, then you are guarded no longer; you are on your own.

Second, here the word for “faith” (pistis) is being used objectively, meaning that it does NOT mean belief or believing. When used objectively, pistis takes on the meaning of the doctrines and received articles of the faith. In other words, the Scriptures tell us not to commit adultery, so if we are walking in obedience to God’s Word, we will not commit adultery, and that obedience guards us for the future consummation of eternal life.

If one is not walking in obedience to God’s Word, then he is not guarded for eternal life because he is out there doing whatever he wants to, which is sin. No one who practices a lifestyle of sinful behavior will make it to the consummation of eternal life in heaven.

 

 

***

since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; (I Peter 1:23 ESV)

 

First, the erroneous interpretation that Reformed theology assigns to this verse, says that because you were born again of imperishable seed, you cannot perish. There are a number of problems with this childish interpretation:

 

  1. The seed is imperishable, because it is the Holy Spirit of God, but you are NOT imperishable. The text does not say that YOU are imperishable, it says that the SEED is imperishable.

 

  1. The word for “have been born again” is from the word anagennao in the Perfect Passive Participle. Anagennao means to beget again, to regenerate; and the grammar means that the action of the verb (born again) happened in the past but makes no assertion of whether or not the results of that action continues into the present. In other words, “you got saved in the past, but that does not mean you are saved today.”

 

Therefore, this verse does not teach OSAS doctrine like Reformed theology wants to make us believe.

 

 

***

They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. (I John 2:19 ESV)

 

First, Calvinists use this verse to say that anyone who ‘apparently’ walks away or falls away from Christ, was never saved in the first place. They assume to be god here by saying so, because no one knows whether a person ever got saved or not. We can know if they are walking with God because of the fruit that they will bear, but we cannot know if they ever got saved.

Second, as usual, Calvinists ignore the context of the passages that they claim as support for their false teachings. Here, John does NOT speak about the average Christian; he specifically addresses antichrists, not those who get saved and then fall away.

Third, if we only took this passage alone, without taking the WHOLE Word of God into account, then it might mean what they claim…but that is not proper exegesis of Scripture. When we do take the whole Word of God into account, we see many passages in Scripture that teaches that a person can get saved and then fall away from God back into the world.

 

 

***

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of Him. (I John 5:1 ESV)

 

Passages that utilize the phrase “born of God” are heavily used by Reformed theology with the (quite laughable) interpretation that once a person has been born, he cannot be ‘unborn.’ While this is correct in a very naïve way, the opposite of being born…is to die. Therefore, rather than take the evolutionist’s way of twisting words around to make us believe in their false doctrines regarding nature, and applying those same practices to the Scriptures like Calvinists do, what is meant by ‘unborn’ is death – spiritual death, to be precise.

Second, we must deal with the phrase “born of God” because the Greek meaning is skewed in the translation. The words here in the Greek are “ek tou Theo gegennetai” (ek tou qeou gegennhtai) which would literally translate into English as “was born out of God” (when we take into consideration the grammar).

Third, the phrase ek tou qeou gegennhtai in the Greek does not carry with it the same meaning as it would in English (that a person once born continues living), which it would mean in the simple Genitive. However, here the preposition “ek” (out of, from) gives it the meaning of something coming from God, in this case, a new spiritual life.

Fourth, the word for “believes” (pistis) is in the Present Active Participle, again meaning action that is continuous or repeated. Together in the context here, John says that whoever continues placing his faith and trust in Christ, will continue to receive a new spiritual life from God.

Once again, as long as one continues to believe and trust in Christ and (in conjunction with the other passages we have already examined) continue to walk in obedience to Him, that person continues to have new spiritual life from God. If that person ceases to walk in obedient faith and trust in Christ, then he ceases to have that new spiritual life from God.

Finally, we must also apply covenant principle #4… and when applied to this passage like it is supposed to be, we find once again that what Jesus says directly implies that those who have eternal life will only remain standing in that state of being (of having eternal life) as long as they remain abiding in Christ. If one ceases to do so, then he cuts himself off from Christ and from having eternal life.

 

 

***

Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James, To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ: (Jude 1:1 ESV)

 

First, “are called” is dead wrong because there is no ‘to be verb’ anywhere near the word for called (kletos), nor is one implied. Kletos simply means “called” or “invited.” It is also in the Dative case, meaning either in, to, or with.

Second, there is no word in the Greek text meaning “for” in “kept for Jesus Christ,” neither is the meaning “for” implied by the grammar anywhere in the text.

Third, all three words for “kept Jesus Christ” are in the Dative case, meaning either in, to, or with.

Fourth, the word the ESV translates as “kept” makes no sense in the context of the verse…because the word (tereo) means either to watch, keep an eye on, to guard, keep, or metaphorically, to obey. Here in this instance, the correct definition can be either kept or obey (obedient).

In the Dative case, “kept in Jesus Christ” does work, keeping in mind that tereo is also in the Perfect Passive Participle, meaning that the action of the verb (kept) happened in the past but makes no assertion of whether or not the results of that action continues into the present. Because of this, we believe translating tereo as “obedient” is more likely the intended meaning, especially since this short letter is full of references to being obedient to Christ as well as those in the past who were not obedient to Him.

Therefore, a more accurate rendering of this verse would read:

“Jude, a slave of Jesus Christ and brother of James; to those who were loved in God            the Father, called and obedient in Jesus Christ.”

This verse, when translated correctly according to the Greek and its grammar, does NOT support the OSAS position at all.

 

 

***     ***     ***     ***     ***     ***     ***     ***     ***     ***     ***     ***     ***     ***

 

 

The problem with the “being sealed by the Spirit”…

First, I want to look at the word in the Greek translated in the following verses as “sealed’ so that I won’t have to repeat the information 10 times:

The word translated as “sealed” in the following passages is sphragizo, which means to seal (as if stamping with a ruler’s seal – signet ring – as a mark of authority, originality, or authorship); to close up (as one closes and seals an envelope); to put one’s mark upon something as a sign of ownership or ‘approvedness.’ Figuratively, to attest to, to confirm, to establish depending upon the grammar and context of the sentence it is used in.

When rendering a translation of any word in the Greek into English, the Greek context of the sentence must be taken into consideration, as well, of course, the grammar also; as well as taking the WHOLE Word of God into that consideration.

And, as usual, we are to run all of our interpretations of these passages through the interpretational lens of ANE covenant principles, because they are all amendable to them, particularly principle #4. Therefore, since the indwelling Holy Spirit is a gift from God accorded only to those who are in Christ, that directly implies that one only has the indwelling Spirit as long as he remains abiding in Christ…if he ceases to remain abiding in Christ, then he is no longer in the New Covenant in Christ and, hence, he no longer has anything that God promises to us in the New Covenant. This includes the indwelling Spirit of God as a mark and pledge.

Therefore, telling people that since they have been “sealed” by God with the Holy Spirit, like He is just one big envelope that keeps us secure for eternal life, is an outright deception and lie – especially considering that if they cease to remain abiding in Christ, they will no longer have the Holy Spirit indwelling them.

 

and who has also put His seal on us and given us His Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. (II Corinthians 1:22 ESV)

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:30 ESV)

 

First, according to the Greek and its grammar, II Cor. 1:22 is more accurately translated as: “and has also marked us, and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.”

Second, sphragizo in these verses means mark, not seal, as is dictated by the use of the word in these sentences. God does not stamp us with authority, originality, or authorship, not in the way these sentences use the word. Neither are we “closed up” in a giant invisible envelope for preservation like Calvinists want us to believe, which is extremely bad exegesis of the verse.

In conjunction with the word translated as “pledge” (modern day ‘down payment’), sphragizo here means mark as a sign of ownership and being approved of by God. This is because we are only approved of by God if we are abiding in Christ, and those who are abiding in Christ are given the Holy Spirit to dwell within them per the New Covenant in Christ.

Third, we will visit the “pledge” or “guarantee” as the ESV renders it (in great error) in the verse below.

 

 

***

He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. (II Corinthians 5:5 ESV)

 

First, taking the grammar and context into consideration, this verse is more accurately translated according to: “And the One who effected this in us is God, Who also gave us of His Spirit as a down payment.”

Second, the word “down payment” (which the ESV mistranslates as “guarantee”) in the Greek is arrabon, which means a pledge or earnest money – what we today call a down payment. The word does not mean “guarantee” in any way, shape, or form, not even metaphorically. Arrabon follows the same consumer rules as a down payment – specifically in this case, if the believer who has the Spirit remains abiding in Christ and is in Christ when he takes his last breath, then he will receive the fullness of what that down payment guaranteed (which is where the idea comes from that arrabon means “guarantee”). However, the down payment that guarantees is NOT the guarantee itself, and that is where so many go wrong here.

But if that person ceases to remain abiding in Christ, and is not in Christ when he dies, then he forfeits that down payment and loses it. The guarantee aspect is dependent upon meeting the obligations set upon him by God (in this case). The only difference here, is that usually person “A” gives the down payment to person “B” for something that “B” has that “A” wants, but doesn’t have enough to pay for it outright. In our case, God (person “B”) is giving us (persons “B”) the down payment for what we want, because He wants us to be equipped and empowered to be able to make it to receive the fullness of what He has for us.

This passage, as a reminder, is amendable to covenant principle #4. As such, everything taken together, this verse does NOT teach or even allude to OSAS doctrine, and it can only be pressed into that kind of erroneous thought by assigning errant definitions and mistranslating it.

 

 

***

In Him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, (Ephesians 1:13 ESV)

 

Again, the grammar and wording of the verse makes sphragizo take on the meaning of marked, not sealed like a giant envelope or giant zip-loc baggie preserving us for heaven. This meaning is no where implied, metaphorically or otherwise, in the verse.

 

 

***

Then I saw in the right hand of Him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. (Revelation 5:1 ESV)

 

This verse is actually translated correctly concerning the subject matter. Here sphragizo here means the seal closing an envelope, such as with candle wax and a king’s signet ring.

 

 

***

saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.” (Revelation 7:3 ESV)

 

Here again the word is being mishandled, where it is more accurately translated as marked. The mark that is said to be placed upon their foreheads appears to be a physical mark according to the wording of the text, which the anti-christ later copies by instituting his “mark of the beast.” Satan always has his satanic counterpart to what God is doing.

 

 

***

And I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel: (Revelation 7:4 ESV)

12,000 from the tribe of Judah were sealed, 12,000 from the tribe of Reuben, 12,000 from the tribe of Gad, (Revelation 7:5 ESV)

12,000 from the tribe of Zebulun, 12,000 from the tribe of Joseph, 12,000 from the tribe of Benjamin were sealed. (Revelation 7:8 ESV)

 

Again, all three passages are more accurately translated as “marked” instead of “sealed,” because that is what sphragizo means in these passages according to the words employed in them.

 

 

***

and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while. (Revelation 20:3 ESV)

 

This verse actually has the correct definitional word used, because the words incorporated in the text imply that satan is locked away (“to close up”) for a time.

All this to say that the idea that passages which have wording to the effect that saved believers are somehow sealed by God with the Holy Spirit so that they cannot “lose” their salvation, is straight up false teaching where the words and grammar of the Greek are being either ignored for the translator’s biases, or mistranslated for the translator’s biases.

Not too mention, again, that all of these passages must pass through the interpretational sieve of covenant principle #4…and in the FINAL ANAYLISIS of any and all passages that Reformed theology uses to teach the false ideology of unconditional eternal security (OSAS doctrine), they ALL must pass through that final sieve of interpretation, and when they do, they are all brought into the light in the implication that no one’s salvation (eternal life) is guaranteed because eternal life is based upon conditions. And conditions must be met in order to get what is conditional, it is NOT guaranteed anywhere in Scripture if it comes from covenant.

 

Blessings!

Posted in Bible Teaching, eternal life, False Teachings, Teaching on the New Covenant | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Can’t I seem to get my Spiritual act together? Some helpful information…

So, you read the title and have some issues that you can’t seem to get power over – join the club!

After two years of trying everything under the sun, including reading books from Christian authors that attempted to help with those issues, I could not find anything that helped me in trying to get my act together and be what I read in the Scriptures that a Christian is supposed to be. Now, the dogmatic Calvinist says, “It’s not up to you, Christ has done everything, and all you need to do is rest in Him by faith and everything will be taken care of. Relax, brother! You are on your way to heaven!”

Unfortunately, that is not what Scripture teaches us. I don’t know about the Calvinist bible, but my Bible tells me that I am to walk (live a lifestyle of practicing…) in righteousness and holiness. Even after receiving salvation from sin, if we do not practice doing what is right in God’s eyes (righteousness) and practice daily separation from sinful things (holiness/sanctification), then we will never see God…aside from being sentenced to the Lake of Fire on judgment day. No, Scripture tells us that even though we have been given the imputed righteousness and holiness of Christ so that we can enter into the very presence of God, so that we can engage Him in worship and personal, intimate relationship – if we do not practice what we have been given, then we will never make it to the consummation of eternal life in heaven.

Calvinists will choke over what I just said because they are taught a warped interpretation of those passages that clearly and unbiasedly tell us those things. Nevertheless, I don’t write this blog in effort to try to persuade bias-defenders, I write this blog for those who are seeking the truth of God, because truth-seekers will eventually find His truth…

 

Matthew 7:7-8    “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you; because all who ask will receive, and all who seek will find, and to all who knock the door shall be opened to them.

John 7:17    “If anyone seeks to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God, or whether I am speaking on my own authority.”

 

So, after two years of trying all these things, many of which you might have also tried, one night while talking to the Lord about it, the light bulb finally came on. If you have read this blog for any amount of time, you would have seen the foundation of my “light-bulb moment” in the entry about renewing your mind…but what I did not realize until recently, was putting the heart and mind together. Jesus said that murders, rape, fornication, lies, thefts, etc. all originate from out of the heart, and that is what corrupts people.

 

Matthew 15:18-20      “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”

 

What I did not realize until recently, is that the mind and heart are “linked” for lack of a better term. The stuff in our hearts…where does it come from? Certain teachings claim that man is born totally depraved (even though there is no Scripture evidence to back that claim, and I speak of Scriptural texts that are not twisted and taken out of their contexts). As the old saying goes, “Garbage in, garbage out.” What you put into your mind goes down into your heart, and like Jesus said, if all that is in your heart is wickedness, then that is what will come out…

 

Matthew 12:33-35      “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil.”

 

So, Jesus makes the link between the heart and our actions and words, that whatever is in the heart of a person is what will be coming out in our lives. If we have filled our hearts with good things, spiritual things, then that is what will come out…but how does that work? It works because our hearts are where our will comes from. If my heart is filled with bad things, evil and wicked things, then my willpower will be given over to doing those things; whereas if my heart is filled with godly things, good and spiritual things, then my willpower is given over to doing those things.

This is why it is important to renew our minds with godly spiritual things, because as Paul says in Galatians, the flesh is constantly trying to move us to do sinful things, as well as trying to keep us from doing spiritual things, and the only way to put the flesh under is by renewing our minds so that we can walk in the Spirit…

 

Romans 8:13     “Because if you conduct your life according to the flesh, you will die; but, if you put to death the deeds of the flesh by walking in the Spirit, then you will live.

Romans 8:5     “Those who walk in the flesh set their minds to obeying the desires of the flesh, but those who walk in the Spirit set their minds to obey the things of the Spirit.

Galatians 5:16-17     “But I say, walk in the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh; because the flesh wars against the spirit, and fights against the spirit, in order to keep you from doing the spiritual things that you want to do.

 

Here’s how it works, as has been revealed to me for the coming year: we renew our minds by reading Scripture and meditating on it (thinking about it, mulling it over in your mind, even talking to yourself – or better yet – talking to God about what you are reading, especially if you don’t understand what you have read), particularly key passages of Scripture that address the behavior that God commands us to be living. Some of these are in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapters 5-7; Romans chapters 6, 8, 12, and 13. Others are in Galatians 5-6; Ephesians 4 and 5; Philippians 2, 3, 4; Colossians 3 and so on. They are all parts of Paul’s books where he tells us how we are to conduct ourselves in love, holiness, righteousness, how to talk, being humble-minded, and not angry, hateful, not to lie, cheat, steal, fight, be bitter towards others, etc.

In other words, you can streamline your mind renewal efforts by reading through the entire New Testament and writing down passages that tell you how you are supposed to be conducting your life according to God’s desire for you. This “streamlines” your effort because when it comes to mind renewal, there is far more…”fluff”…for lack of a better word, in Scripture that has nothing to do with renewing your mind. For example, reading the majority of the Gospels won’t help because most of the Gospels are about Jesus’ life, not about how you are to conduct your life. In Romans, Paul mostly addresses doctrinal issues like faith, justification, salvation, eternal life, etc…and while those things are important (very important), they do not help you when it comes to renewing your mind with what God expects out of you and growing in spiritual maturity.

So, we spend a good week or two consecrating our free time to renewing our minds with Scripture, and even better with choice passages of Scripture dealing with how God wants us to conduct our lives, and our renewed mind begins to affect our heart…to fill our hearts – or, rather, to “re-write” our hearts – with good, spiritual, godly things. Now…BE PATIENT! Because this is not an ‘over night’ process. It takes a while to renew your mind and have it affect your heart, and I would say that you need to commit to at least 30 days (which is one reason why secular psychologists and the like tell us that it takes 30 days of constant practice of something in order to make it a habit).

Someone will say, “God says that He changes our hearts, you are running in foolishness.” The problem with that is, I study before I say anything, and such a comment as that above (which I have been told by a bias-defender) is that Scripture tells us not only that God will change our hearts, but He also commands us to change our own hearts!…

 

Ezekiel 36:26     “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”

Ezekiel 18:31     “Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel?”

 

So, God does indeed say that He will give us a new heart, but then He commands us to “make yourselves a new heart,” so…what’s going on here? God has to give us a new heart BEFORE we can make our hearts new. To some that will sound like nonsense, but here are some facts to consider and think about…before one receives salvation and that new heart from God, our old natural heart was inundated by sin and darkness, to the point that sin and darkness was all that it knew. Did our hearts have the capacity to know good and godly things? I believe Scripture testifies that it does have that capacity, but the sad truth is that most of us, from birth until we hear the gospel, don’t know any different and normally do not search for what is godly.

Simply put, our hearts before conversion and salvation don’t have the capacity to really be renewed into a new, clean, holy and righteous heart. New and good, perhaps, but not holy and righteous. The new heart that God gives to us upon receiving Christ into our hearts, is able to become new and filled with holiness and righteousness, and when we turn to God and receive Him, our hearts are made thus. However, over time, just like with a brand new car and that brand new car smell, with time it fades, like the shine on a man’s polished shoes as he walks around outside because dust particles cling to those shoes, dulling that shine. After a while, they will not shine again until he takes the time to wipe them off and then eventually polish them again. This is how it is with us…we get saved and cleansed from sinful things, our minds and hearts are full of the love of God and all the good things that come with it…but as we walk in this world, especially before we come to understand the place of prayer in our lives, the “dust” particles of darkness of this world slowly build up in our minds and hearts, and they need to be renewed again.

Do an experiment…get a can of white spray paint and a can of black spray paint, and a piece of cardboard from somewhere. Next, spray the cardboard white on one side, or perhaps just a medium-sized place on the cardboard. This represents your mind as if it was pure and clean from sinful things (I know, our minds are not like that right now, but trust me). Next, take the black spray paint and just spray a black circle in the middle of all that white background, and let it dry. This black spot represents your spotted mind by the darkness of the world around you, which you can’t hardly get away from. For every half-hour that you spend in front of the TV, that black spot grows exponentially…which goes in spades for every 30 minutes on your iPhone, iPad, etc… Now, take the white can of spray paint and with a medium wave stroke of your hand, spray over the black spot. Repeat that motion until the black spot is no longer visible…and that will give you some idea of how long it takes you to renew your mind into purity after exposing yourself to the darkness of this world. Kind’a scary, isn’t it.

Renewing our minds is a constant, daily thing – to the point that I have taken the time to read the New Testament and have written down all those passages pertinent for mind renewal, and now have begun reading them every day at least once a day. Now that we have come to God and He has given us a new heart that we can renew and make ourselves a new heart, that should be our goal from now on. We need to constantly work on renewing our minds with Scripture, which renews our hearts where the center of our lives are, where the center of our will dwells…

 

Proverbs 4:23     “Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.”

 

Some decisions that we make on a daily basis come from our minds and brains, but the important issues of life, which lead to action or inaction, originates from out of our hearts – “the issues of life.” Those issues are those which Jesus talks about in the passages given earlier above, and it is those issues which we are now addressing. You want to walk in the Spirit, but can’t seem to. You want to stop doing that sin but you just can’t seem to get any power over it. You try spending time in prayer, but that didn’t work (most likely because a lot of us don’t realize that prayer is useless unless we are striving to walk in obedience to God in all that we do). What I mean here is not in what we are inclined to keep falling to for whatever reason, but in all the other things that we don’t seem to be having a problem with.

For example, do you use swear words that you don’t have to use? Do you drive the speed limit, or don’t you think that is important enough to obey God in (obey the laws of the land)? Are you mean to a certain individual who you don’t like for some reason, when you are commanded by God to walk in peace with all, and regardless of whether you like them or not, you are commanded to love on them and not be mean to them. Do you love on others by helping them with something that they need help with, or do you just walk on by them without lifting a finger to help? You see, James said…

 

James 4:17     “When you know the right thing to do, but you choose not to do it, then you have sinned.”

 

When you are not striving to walk in obedience to God in everything, then you cannot expect God to help you with that one thing that you really know that you need help with. Asking God for help to get you off the hook from pornography (whether movies or just pictures) isn’t going to go anywhere if you are engaged in fornication or an adulterous relationship…I have been surprised by how many people don’t seem to understand that they as Christians cannot engage in sex outside of marriage. Especially when it is right there in the Bible that they claim to read! And that is another great issue today…the reason why some of you cannot get yourselves together spiritually and walk as God commands us to walk, is because you don’t spend enough time reading the Bible, or in spending time with God in prayer, to be able to punch your way out of a wet paper bag (which is quite easy once it becomes wet, just in case you don’t understand the analogy).

So…spend time reading the Bible, particularly the New Testament, and write down those verses which directly pertain to the kind of behavior that God commands that we walk in and practice. Then re-read those passages at least one time every day and think about them, meditate on what they are saying. Then, in time (give it at least a month, 30 days), your heart will change and you will begin to find the strength and willpower to be able to stop doing what you want to stop doing, or start doing what you want to start doing. Separate from the heart-mind thing, the mind-walking in the Spirit thing is also important, because you cannot walk in the Spirit until after your mind is renewed with godly, spiritual things, so that you begin to constantly have godly, spiritual things in your mind, in the back of your mind – because walking in the Spirit means that you are minding the things of the Spirit of God.

Once your heart and mind are in tune with God’s Word and Spirit, you will not only be able to walk in the Spirit and put the deeds of the flesh to death, but you will also have the willpower to do those spiritual things that you have been desiring to do.

Blessings, and do this and have a wonderful and God-blessed New Year!

 

 

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The dangers of Peter Scazzero and his Emotionally Healthy Spirituality nonsense – Part II

Chapter 4 begins on page 65, and is titled, “Know Yourself That You May Know God.” First off, when I asked the people in my EHS Workbook Study Group if they understood what Scazzero is talking about in this chapter, they were all confused and thought something was wrong with them because they didn’t understand. They thought that because they couldn’t understand what he means in “know yourself” that they were really messed up. I tried my best to assure them that there was nothing wrong with them, the problem was with the nonsense that we were reading.

No where in Scripture are we told that we need to get to know ourselves before we can know God. This is just more nonsense, whether coming from Scazzero himself or the pagan religions that he incorporates into the EHS books. Either way, it is not Scriptural. There is no secret you hiding deep within yourself fighting to come out…there is only the you that you want to be. But that person does not exist until you become that person. It seems that confusion thrives in this book, so much so that I am truly astounded that so many Evangelicals have been taken in by it. Apparently, the mix of false pastors, false teachings, and little actual knowledge of the Scripture leads to mass groping in the darkness to the point that anything will be believed, even when it fosters confusion.

In this chapter, Scazzero makes numerous statements that mimic esoteric New Age writings, like, “true self,” and “your authentic self.” You are you…period. If you want to change something about yourself, then you have the desire to change something about yourself, it is not a completely different person in you waiting for you to release them into being. It is just you desiring a change in life. The way Scazzero words things here, you need to somehow bring out the you that is dwelling inside you, calling it your “true self” and “your authentic self.” This is nothing more than nonsense aimed at either making the book thicker and worth paying more money for, or something akin to spiritual guidance from the dark side to give more confusion.

Part of the problem here is that Scazzero is once again taking this “true self” stuff straight out of Buddhism and Hinduism…

Our real self, the spirit, is ever perfect and free. (http://breathmeditation.org/the-breath-of-life-the-practice-of-breath-meditation)

 

Contrary to what Scazzero is saying here, our spirits are not our true selves. Our spirits are the part of us that make us live in this present world. As James says, without the spirit the body is dead. Your spirit does not make your decisions, it does not cause you to act in the way that you do. Your spirit is just a part of what makes you human – body, spirit, and soul (mind). Part of the problem here is that Scazzero seemingly doesn’t understand himself and places his emotions under a microscope. Scripture is clear, it is OK to be angry, just don’t allow your anger to cause you to sin or do something stupid, and don’t allow anger to rule you, forgive the person that made you angry before the sun goes down. This is just one example of Scripture dealing with emotional issues, and the majority of them require forgiveness in order to get over them, and if we don’t forgive those who have incited those negative feelings, they get worse and worse. A little seed of anger, if not forgiven, can lead to a “root of bitterness” which continues until actions and behavior are affected. “Why do I do that?” “Why do I feel like this?” When we have to ask such questions, you can bet your money that you have not forgiven someone in your past, and it will only get worse until dealt with.

On page 93 where chapter 5 begins, we read: “True spirituality frees us to live joyfully in the present. It requires, however, going back in order to go forward. This takes us to the very heart of spirituality and discipleship in the family of God – breaking free from the destructive sinful patterns of our pasts to live the life of love God intends.” First, let me start out by giving the same engagements as before…this is nonsense. They only thing that frees us to live joyfully in the present, is walking in obedience to God, pure and simple. Eastern religious esoteric practices do not free us for anything, but actually has the power to bring us into great spiritual bondage to darkness.

Remember that Scazzero’s definition of spirituality as he uses it, does not have anything to do with Christianity or what we read in the Scriptures. Second, contrary to what he teaches here, nothing that he has given to us in this book has anything to do with discipleship. Discipleship as taught in the Scriptures, is all about teaching new converts the basics of the doctrines of God, and then helping them practice those which direct our behavior and lifestyles. Meditating to your breathing and other nonsense that he is building up to, has nothing to do with Christian discipleship. Third, they only way to break “free from the destructive sinful patterns of our pasts” is by sitting down and forgiving those who have wronged us, whether they deserve it or not, and by renewing our minds with Scripture so that we can walk in the Spirit, so that we have the power to walk in obedience to God.

We cannot, and will not be able to, live the kind of life of love that God wants us to until we do these three things; renew your mind, walk in the Spirit, walk in obedience. Why? Because sin is a choice, unless it is an addiction (which began as a choice). An addiction can be either a physical, biological one (drugs, alcohol, eating, pornography, etc.) or it can be a sinful one bound up within the flesh (masturbation, etc.) that only prayer will be able to break. Either way, no amount of meditation or chanting mantras will help…

 

Colossians 2:23                                                                                                                                 These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

 

Paul says this because it is true…the only thing that can give us the power to stop “the indulgence of the flesh” is the Spirit and the power that He provides. As he says elsewhere…

 

Galatians 3:3                                                                                                                                        Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?

 

Chapter 6 (Journey Through the Wall), beginning on page 117, can be considered a valiant attempt to describe and give insight into what Scazzero calls “the Wall.” The Wall is, as he takes from the so-called “ancients,” called “the dark night of the soul” and can last for years, even decades. I have experienced my own time of this darkness, when it seems like God doesn’t answer us, that He doesn’t visit us like He used to. It seems like we receive no direction in life and it fuels frustration and the idea that we have done something so wrong that He just walked away from us. Sadly, however, Scazzero fails to understand exactly what this is, and gives us esoteric instructions on how to get “through” it…which really does not work because it is misguided.

What this “dark night of the soul” is in reality, only comes to those who previously walked with God in intimate relationship, who desired to go deeper with God, and thus voiced that desire in prayer. Then things begin to happen that make us wonder what God was doing…they stopped hearing from Him, stopped feeling His presence, the pull of sin seemed to become stronger while our strength to fight against it seemed to grow weaker. We begin to wonder what we have done, or what we need to do that we haven’t been doing, that is destroying our ability to sense any kind of love or attachment with Him any longer. But not everyone comes to this place, because not everyone who gets saved actually keeps walking with God, even thought they may believe that they are because of false teachers and false doctrines.

What is happening in reality, is that God desires us to move ever closer to Him, and in effort to bring that same desire in us, He hides Himself (as David speaks about in the Psalms) hoping to entice within us the desire to seek Him more diligently in prayer. There, in the thick, dark clouds of obscurity, He waits for us to get so frustrated with things that we fall before Him in deep, soul-wrenching prayer that sometimes lasts for hours or days, and when we come out on the other side, words cannot express the joy that we find in the Light of His glorious face as we enter into His presence yet once again…miles closer to Him than we were before we first prayed that initiating prayer. Scazzero senses the darkness of the soul, but mislabels it, and after mislabeling it he attempts to give us instructions on how to deal with it. However, as stated above, those instructions are misguided because the problem is not what he suspects that it is.

The Wall has nothing to do with faith, or stages of faith. It all has to do with God desiring us to follow Him into the darkness through prayer, seeking Him in order to move closer to Him.

On page 128 he introduces the so-called “Jesus prayer” and says, “By repeating the prayer throughout the day, synchronizing the syllables of these words with our heartbeat throughout the day, the intention is that our very lives will embody the richness of the prayer.” Again, more esoteric nonsense, as if synchronization of the words you speak with your heartbeats will somehow magically weave the meaning of the words into your very being.

In the beginning of chapter 8, on page 153, we read the following directly under the chapter title: “Stopping to Breathe the Air of Eternity.” So, first of all, this chapter is about the Catholic practices of “The Daily Office” and “Sabbath.” Let me first point out regarding sabbath, that Christ is our sabbath today, He is the one that gives us rest as we push forward in obedience to God.

Second, while the practice of “The Daily Office” is centered around taking a short time out from our daily routines and work in order to focus on God – which is a good thing – the manner in which he presents this is not Scriptural. Devotions and quiet time with God (quiet time meaning going somewhere by yourself in order to spend time with God in prayer) is a good thing, and we are all for that. We should all have devotions and take time out’s in order to focus on God and spend some time in prayer, but it needs to follow Biblical precepts, not Hindu and/or Buddhist precepts.

Scazzero goes through how he first came to know about the daily office by visiting Trappist monks at a monastery. In order to get the full scope of what a Trappist monk is:

 

The Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (also known as “Trappists”) is a Roman Catholic contemplative religious order, consisting of monasteries of monks and monasteries of nuns…Our lives are dedicated to seeking union with God, through Jesus Christ, in a community of sisters or brothers. (http://www.ocso.org/)

 

They are ‘contemplatives,’ meaning that they subscribe and practice contemplative spirituality…which, again, is nothing more than Hindu and/or Buddhist meditation practices (which they label as prayer), particularly the so-called “breath meditation.” In breath meditation, which lines up perfectly with Scazzero’s instructions (on page 160), one sits still while holding himself attentive and open to whatever might happen during his meditation time (a red flag should go up just right there alone); sit straight (because in Hinduism, the chakras going up the spine must all be aligned); breathe slowly, deeply, and naturally; and close your eyes or lower them to the ground. As I stated, if you look up Hindu/Buddhist meditation practices, they line up perfectly with what Scazzero gives us here…because that is where he gets them from.

After this list he writes: “When you find your mind wandering, let your breathing bring you back. As you breathe in, ask God to fill you with the Holy Spirit. As you breathe out, exhale all that is sinful, false, and not of him.” First, we do not breathe in the Holy Spirit…if that was the case, then every Christian would be full of His Spirit every day of their lives. Second, you cannot exhale your sins away, nor what is false, nor what is not of God. This is pure nonsense. Nothing cleanses you from your sin except the blood of Christ (if you are walking in obedience to Him, I John 1:7), as for what is false and not of Him, that is YOUR part by walking in obedience to Him. Aside from these minor things, I want to focus on this meditation for a moment…because this is what so-called Christian contemplatives call “breath meditation” in the “Christian (Catholic) Tradition.” Their writings, although couched in “Christianese” mirror Hindu and Buddhist teachings:

 

So in Breath Meditation we immerse our awareness in the breath as that is beyond the thinking mind, beyond all words and concepts, and leads us to the silent consciousness that is our sole reality… In advanced yoga treatises we frequently encounter the term, “Chidakasha,” which means “the Space (Ether) of Consciousness.” This is the level of existence and consciousness so pure and subtle, so interwoven with spirit, that it is indistinguishable from spirit. Various yogic texts inform us that the breath arises directly from the Chidakasha. Breath Meditation right away begins centering our awareness in the etheric levels of our being, in the Chidakasha. By fixing our attention on the movement of the breath our awareness enters into the very root of our existence. The process of meditation takes place within the Chidakasha, the seat of the Spirit-Self. This is the Paradise from which we fell into the “earth” of material consciousness, and to which we return through meditation. In Breath Meditation, through increasing awareness of the breath we begin experiencing the Chidakasha to greater and greater degrees. This is the highest experience for the meditator. The more we meditate the higher and higher and further and further we penetrate into the Infinite Consciousness of which we are an eternal part.  (https://ocoy.org/original-yoga/how-to-meditate/the-breath-of-life-the-practice-of-breath-meditation/the-hindu-tradition-of-breath-meditation/)

 

The ‘christian’ contemplative’s goal is to become united with God…the Hindu goal through breath meditations is to become one with “the Infinite Consciousness of which we are an eternal part.” Sound familiar? You “can be like God” or, in the New Age version, you are god only you just don’t know it yet. Continuing…

 

Breath, which exists on all planes of manifestation, is the connecting link between matter and energy on the one hand and consciousness and mind on the other. By sitting with closed eyes and letting the mind become easefully absorbed in observing and experiencing the movements of the breath we enter into the consciousness from which it arises–the eternal Witness Consciousness. We start with awareness of the ordinary physical breath, but that awareness, when cultivated correctly, leads us into higher awareness which enables us to perceive the subtle movement behind the breath. Ultimately, we come into contact with the Breather of the breath, our own Spirit-Self. (http://breathmeditation.org/the-breath-of-life-the-practice-of-breath-meditation)

 

In case the point here is missed, lost within the babble surrounding it, the “eternal Witness Consciousness” is the same as “the Breather of the breath” . . . which turns out to be you! Your “own Spirit-Self!” Again, you are god, you just don’t know it yet until you reach certain enlightenment through breath meditation. However, when people go into altered states of consciousness in these breath meditations, they open themselves up to demonic possession, which Scazzero either does not know about, or doesn’t know enough about what he is saying to know any better. Other “contemplatives” and esoteric religions (including Hinduism) will give the practitioner warnings about this possibility, such as here by Richard Foster, a practicing (and teaching) ‘christian’ contemplative…

 

I also want to give a word of precaution.  In the silent contemplation of God we are entering deeply into the spiritual realm, and there is such a thing as supernatural guidance that is not divine guidance.  While the Bible does not give us a lot of information on the nature of the spiritual world, we do know enough to recognize that there are various orders of spiritual beings, and some of them are definitely not in cooperation with God and his way. (thevalueofsparrows.com)

 

Foster does not use the word “demon” but that is exactly what he is talking about. This is one other thing that is dangerous to the Christian church; those who get into practicing this contemplative spirituality begin to lose Scriptural truth at an alarming rate. They begin quoting Scripture and twisting it to suit their contemplative nonsense…kind of like Scazzero does throughout his book. Here is one example (found on page 160):

 

Scripture commands us: “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him” (Psalm 37:7) and “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

 

He uses these two passages as support in the book for what he calls “centering,” or being still before God. The only problem with this is he is taking the passages out of their context and assigning to them an esoteric meaning outside the purview of the Scriptures. Psalm 37:7 is speaking of not letting yourself be overcome with stress and anxieties because of what others are doing. The premise behind Psalm 46:10, when taken into context, is that God is for Israel and He will not let any lasting harm befall them.

 

On page 161 under the heading of “Silence,” Scazzero continues with, “Dallas Willard has called silence and solitude the two most radical disciplines of the Christian life. Solitude is the practice of being absent from people and things to attend to God. Silence is the practice of quieting every inner and outer voice to attend to God.” First, in searching Dallas Willard and the many, many things associated with his name, he seems like a first-rate Christian with a lot of wisdom. However, when we dig deeper not only in his own life but also in the things associated with his name, such as the Dallas Willard Center for Spiritual Formation, we find underneath the Christianese a disturbing trend…more contemplative spirituality, only far more carefully worded.

Secondly, “Silence is the practice of quieting every inner and outer voice to attend to God” is pure nonsense. Once again, Scripture says nothing about these two supposed practices in order to grow closer to God, and one cannot “attend to God” by sitting alone in a room silently meditating upon his favorite mantra or focusing upon his breathing. Third, “Solitude is the practice of being absent from people and things to attend to God” is nonsense. While we do need to take time out every day, as many times as we can a day, to pray and just talk to the Lord, we “attend to God” by – shocking revelation – walking in obedience to God in His Word. We attend to people by loving on them, that is, by helping them when they need help, and by being kind to people whether they need help or not.

 

On page 177 we read a small list of eight things and then a short paragraph:

  • How can I be quick to hear and slow to speak?
  • How can I be angry and not sin?
  • How can I watch my heart above all else (since that is the place from which life flows)?
  • How can I speak the truth in love?
  • How can I be a true peacemaker?
  • How can I mourn?
  • How can I not bear false witness against my neighbor?
  • How can I get rid of all bitterness, rage, and envy?

 The end result of an inability to walk out our beliefs is that our churches and relationships within the church are not qualitatively any different from the world around us.

While Scazzero’s observation in bold may be true, what he offers in his book is not the answer to the question of how a Christian can walk out his beliefs. Meditating upon your breathing, or meditating upon the name “Jesus” or any Scriptural mantra will not do that. I have stated this before and I will say it again, by trying to use Hindu and Buddhist meditation practices into the church in order to help Christians somehow move closer to God as a spiritual vehicle, is as lame, stupid, and moronic as bringing a Ouija board into the church as a spiritual vehicle and using it to communicate with God and draw closer to Him with it.

Hear me clearly, those who do such things, whatever condemnation falls upon such people because of those actions will be justly deserved.

Concernedly, the answer to his eight bulleted questions (and many, many more) is found solidly in prayer. The more time we spend with God in prayer, the more Christ-like we become inwardly, developing what Paul calls “the mind of Christ.” But that is not where things end, that is only the catalyst to changing one’s behavior to conform to the image of Christ. The mind of Christ is always the first thing that must come, because our actions begin in our minds. Only after developing the mind of Christ through prayer and renewing our minds can we then move into the realm of obedience that matters – because then it comes from the heart. Obedience simply for obedience’s sake is good, but hollow. If obedience doesn’t come from the heart, then we are only pretending, playing church, becoming religious people who soon turn into legalists.

How can I stop telling lies? By spending enough time with God that I develop an emotional bond with Him, then my emotions…my heart…will be strengthened to stop telling lies because I don’t want to hurt God’s feelings. I never wanted to hurt His feelings in the first place, but until we develop an emotional bond with Him, we may not have wanted to hurt Him in the past but our hearts were not “into it.” Understand?

I can not want to purposely hurt you, but being human and naturally self-centered, I may not purposely try to stop myself from hurting you, and if I did hurt you, although I would feel bad for a few minutes, it wouldn’t have that great of an impact upon me. Why? Because I don’t know you. I don’t have a relationship with you. I don’t have any kind of emotional bond with you. But, when we spend time with one another and get to know one another, we develop an emotional bond with one another, and that bond motivates us to not lie to one another. The same is true of any and every other thing that is not pleasing to God.

If I have an emotional bond with you, then I won’t steal from you, I won’t try to sleep with your wife, I won’t try to kill you, etc. When we build an emotional bond with God through prayer and personal worship – and I mean real prayer, not just getting down on your knees and praying without any emotional investment or tears, but pouring our hearts out to Him and allowing ourselves to become vulnerable – when we pray with our whole being, we build that emotional bond of love with God. That bond gives us joy because we have reached Him, and because reaching Him gives Him joy, and “the joy of the Lord is our strength.” The joy we receive in ourselves because we give Him joy, strengthens us to walk in a way that is pleasing to Him.

Most people erringly believe that this passage (Neh. 8:10) tells them that God somehow will give them joy…apparently by grace and for no other reason…and that this divine joy will be their strength. However, that is not what is meant here. We receive joy in knowing that we are making God happy with us by drawing closer to Him. The more joy we give Him, the more joy we receive in knowing that we are giving Him joy, and that joy gives us strength to keep pushing forward into ever increasing obedience and holiness, to keep pushing ever forward into deeper and deeper prayer lives and times of personal worship. When we come to the place of receiving joy in knowing that we give God joy just by our seeking Him in prayer and worship, we gain the strength through that emotional bond to renew our minds and begin walking in the Spirit.

When we begin walking in the Spirit and hearing His voice, we enter into the highest place of existence here upon the earth, shedding the flesh, walking in genuine love for all people, even our enemies. There is no closer walk that we can attain with God until the day He takes us home.

 

 

This concludes my review of Peter Scazzero and his book, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, which in and of itself is nothing more than a person’s thinking about how to help the ailing church with its problems, but in a completely misguided, esoteric way. The answer to the church’s problem today is that (1) by and large, for the most part, Christians do not set aside time to spend with God in prayer; and (2) our churches today – by and large, for the most part – are pastored by people who God never called into that ministry. As such, they are not equipped by Him in order to understand how to minister to the church…they don’t understand what worship is or what it does…they don’t understand how to correctly study and read the Scriptures, and so the church today is filled with every kind of false teaching and false doctrine.

 

 

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The dangers of Peter Scazzero and his Emotionally Healthy Spirituality nonsense

Before getting into the book itself, let’s take a look at the author: Peter Scazzero…

  1. Scazzero is not a Christian, he is a Catholic. Now, while many Christians may hold that Catholics are Christians because they embrace the main doctrines of Scripture, it matters little if they do such when they involve themselves in unbiblical practices.

– When you pray to Mary, you are involved in pagan practices, not Scriptural practices.

– When you pray to a statue of Mary, you are involved in pagan practices, not Scriptural practices.

– When you tell people that they have to come and confess their sins to you, rather than going to the Mediator between God and men, Jesus Christ, then you are not practicing Biblical precepts.

– When you cling to worldly things and teach millions of others that doing such is OK with God, then you are not practicing Biblical precepts.

– When you tell young people that if they commit themselves to each other they are married in God’s eyes, so they don’t necessarily need to get married before men, then you are in sin.

– The list can go on, but the point is that just because Catholicism is based upon the Bible, does not mean that they are any more Christian than Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses, who also base their religion on the Bible.

There may very well be people within the Catholic church that are deadly sincere in their search for God or in their religion, but we know that being sincere does not amount to a hill of beans if you are sincerely wrong in what you are practicing.

2.  Scazzero is not only a Catholic, he is also part of the Catholic – Buddhist movement (which they call the Christian-Buddhist movement), and has even been the guest speaker at such Catholic-Buddhist conventions. Anyone who mixes the Bible with paganism, is not a Christian by any stretch of the imagination.

3.  Scazzero is also somewhat of a leader in the Emergent Church Movement, which is riddled with false doctrines, liberal unscriptural doctrines (homosexuals are OK with God, for example), and other unbiblical teachings and attitudes.

 

4.  As we shall see in the coming pages, Scazzero thinks that it is Ok to teach Christians to involve themselves in esoteric, eastern mystic meditation practices in order to ‘get closer to God.’ These practices lead people to involve themselves in pagan practices that open them to demonic contact and demonic possession – but Scazzero thinks nothing of that since Catholic mystic monks have been practicing them for decades.

 

5.  Aside from these things, he couches the vocabulary of the book within Christian terminology, which is deceptive, whether he believes it is or not.

 

Now that we have an inside look at the author of this book, let us tackle the teachings which Scazzero is giving to the Church at large:

The seeming point to the book is the underlying caption, “It’s impossible to be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature.” The supposed premise here is that one cannot become spiritually mature if one is emotionally immature; however, the fact is that when one matures spiritually he will automatically mature emotionally. The two cannot be separated any more than your spirit can separate from your body and the body remain alive.

On page 1 Scazzero writes, “I never imagined that the message contained in these pages would resonate so deeply with churches across all denominations and theological lines.” However, the reason for such a deep resonation is that the Church is experiencing the fall-out from numerous problems, most of which center around people taking up the positions in the church of pastor who God has never called into the ministry (this will be explained more fully later).

On page 2 of the Introduction, he tells us, “This book is meant to transform your life, not merely provide information. It is an invitation to a deeper and wider relationship with Jesus Christ, requiring you to journey into the unknown…” I don’t know whether Scazzero is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, or whether he is just deceived, but this book will not get you any closer to Christ…and in fact, it will take you farther away from Him if you practice what he invites you to do in the book; such as…

In the same paragraph, he tells you, “The combination of emotional health and contemplative spirituality – the heart of the message found on these pages – will unleash a revolution into the deep places of your life.” Now we have the main crux of what this book is all about, contemplative spirituality, and now we must give you the meaning of this term:

Contemplative Spirituality –

  • Contemplative spirituality teaches that god lives inside every man, saved or unsaved…

 

  • It teaches that man’s basic problem is that he is not in contact with the god that dwells within us all…

 

  • And that by ancient meditation practices and prayer techniques, man can restore communion, peace, and balance with god…

 

  • It teaches you to empty your mind and focus on your breathing (Buddhist/Hindu meditation), because your breath is the spirit of god and you must concentrate on breathing in god…

 

  • CS spiritualizes God into some kind of esoteric manifestation of love – love incarnate. This is not what the Scriptures mean when they say that God is love.

 

  • Within Contemplative Spirituality, practitioners practice what they call contemplative prayer and compare it to prayer which we read about in the Bible. The main problem here, however, is that contemplative prayer is not prayer at all, rather (as we touched upon above) it is sitting still, clearing your mind and emptying it of any and all thought, chanting a single word or short phrase (in the so-called ‘Christian tradition’ one can chant Jesus’ name over and over again, or something in a phrase like “God is love”) or focusing on one’s breathing. There is no communication with God taking place at all – the practitioner is actually focusing inward to hear ‘god’ rather than addressing Him directly, as the Scriptures teach.

 

  • CS also teaches its adherents regarding transcendental meditations, to ‘go inward’ seeking enlightenment that is within us all, to the point that when you become sufficiently enlightened, that you become light enough to levitate during meditation. The only way that a person can levitate, is if they have become demon possessed and the demonic spirit within them is causing that action. Human beings do not have the power to levitate in and of themselves…it is akin to saying that you can walk through walls. This aspect of CS is not addressed by Scazzero in his book.

 

  • Adherents of CS and contemplative ‘prayer’ as well as other transcendental meditations, can not only feel better and more mentally alert after their meditation practice…but continued practice has led many to experience nervous breakdowns, episodes of dangerous and bizarre behavior, suicidal and homicidal tendencies, psychological episodes, crime, depression, and manic behavior. All of which are modern day symptoms (among others) of possible demonic activity. Although people may have these symptoms, it does not necessary mean that they are possessed. [A person who is possessed does not always act like what we see in The Exorcist or other movies portraying demonic possession. In some people the symptoms can be homosexuality, or various other things.]

 

  • Speaking of demonic activity, the practice of contemplative ‘prayer’ takes one into the spiritual realm where people – in this case Christians who mean well in trying to develop a better relationship with God (cough) – think they are meeting angels, the Holy Spirit, or even Christ or God while in the spiritual realm. However, masquerading as angels of light are what demons do, for the purpose of deception in order to keep us from meeting with God.

 

  • Nothing having to do with Contemplative Spirituality, or contemplative prayer, is anything that a Christian should be participating in – especially if their goal is to move closer to God. Scripture says that there is only one way to move closer to God…and that is by moving into ever deeper practice of holiness. Of course, that’s just too much work, so people want to find a better way of moving closer to God. Unfortunately for these folks, there is no other way to move closer to God; hence we have teachers accumulating to themselves those with itching ears, and moving into ever increasing darkness rather than light.

 

  • So, when Scazzero says, “contemplative spirituality – the heart of the message found on these pages – will unleash a revolution into the deep places of your life,” he may have good intentions on his part, but his ‘well-meaning’ advise has the potential to revolutionize your life through demon possession…something that no sane person should desire. Even CS and CP enthusiast and teacher Richard Foster issues caution:

I also want to give a word of precaution.  In the silent contemplation of God we are entering deeply into the spiritual realm, and there is such a thing as supernatural guidance that is not divine guidance.  While the Bible does not give us a lot of information on the nature of the spiritual world, we do know enough to recognize that there are various orders of spiritual beings, and some of them are definitely not in cooperation with God and his way. (thevalueofsparrows.com)

 

Scazzero evidently has no qualms about teaching Christians how they can perform pagan Hindu and Buddhist meditation practices that will take them directly into contact with demonic spirits… and he doesn’t even give us warning about these things in this book, which others in the field of eastern meditation do feel necessary to warn others about.

On page 3 of the Introduction, he says, “Chapter 3 provides the hinge upon which the rest of the book hangs, explaining why both emotional health and contemplative spirituality are indispensable to bringing transformation in Christ to the deep places of your life.” This is outright nonsense. CS is really BS! Neither Paul nor any of the other apostles, or Christians of the first century, needed contemplative spirituality in order to transform into the image of Christ. Scazzero, in fact, does not know what he is talking about. Paul, I am sure, would denounce Scazzero for a wolf in sheep’s clothing. What takes us into transformation into Christ, and becoming more and more like Him (as we are commanded to), is personal prayer and relationship with God, and in walking in obedience to Him. Key points of Biblical character which Scazzero never addresses not even one time throughout the 227 pages of the book. He appears to be one of those who thinks he knows better than the Scriptures on how to reach God, and in a most unbiblical, esoteric way.

Also on page 3 of the Introduction, Scazzero quotes and references in other places in his book, John of the Cross, a Catholic mystic who engaged in esoteric and occult practices. This is not someone a Christian should be reading from. Among his writings, he teaches that Christians need to stop practicing prayer and other spiritual routines because, he says, they prevent one from attaining ‘full union with God.’

On page 7, the first page of chapter 1, Scazzero gives us insight into his mental haze by saying, “Christian spirituality, without an integration of emotional health, can be deadly – to yourself, your relationship with God, and the people around you.” Let us pause for a moment and examine the outer crux of what Scazzero’s book is supposedly all about, emotional health.

Exactly what is emotional health?

People who are emotionally healthy are in control of their thoughts, feelings, and behavior. They can keep things in perspective and are able to bounce back from set-backs that take place in their lives. They feel good about themselves and have good relationships with others.

Being healthy emotionally does not mean that you are happy all the time. Rather, it means that you are aware of your emotions and you are mature enough to keep them in check so that you don’t allow them to rule and run your life. People who live their lives according to what they feel are not emotionally healthy…they only do the dishes when the “feel” like it. They only do their laundry when the “feel” like it. They only go to work, pay their bills, feed the kids, cut the grass, etc., when they “feel” like doing those things. And if they don’t feel like doing them, then someone else has to do it or those things don’t get done.

In effect, what we are talking about when it comes to emotional health, is maturity. Being mature means that you accept your responsibilities in life and do them, regardless of how you feel. You pay your bills because you are responsible for them. You take care of your kids because you are responsible for them. When we do not accept our responsibilities in life, then we are immature.

When a person lives their life according to how they feel, and not according to their responsibilities in life, but allow their emotions to dictate their actions and behavior…then they are not mature. Below the surface, what Scazzero is ‘trying’ to doctor for you, is your level of maturity – yet he is so spiritually immature that he does not see that.

Being emotionally healthy means that you manage your emotions so that you don’t allow them to cause you to make stupid or unhealthy decisions and actions. An emotionally healthy person still experiences the same kind of stresses, depression, and anxieties that we all have, but he deals with them in healthy, constructive, and beneficial ways.

Therefore, how does “Christian spirituality” and emotional health come together? We find the answer in a variety of passages in the Scriptures – without having to consult esoteric, mystic, eastern meditation practices:

Romans 12:2                                                                                                                                          Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:10                                                                                                                                    Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

Romans 12:14                                                                                                                                   Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.

I Corinthians 9:27                                                                                                                               But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

Galatians 5:24                                                                                                                                    And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Ephesians 4:2                                                                                                                                    with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,

Ephesians 4:26                                                                                                                                      Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,

Ephesians 4:31                                                                                                                                     Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.

Philippians 2:3                                                                                                                                     Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

Colossians 3:2                                                                                                                                      Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

 

These are but a small fraction of the passages addressing emotions (as well as other topics) and how we are to deal with them. The spiritually mature are those who pay attention to their emotions (in this specific case) and train themselves to deal with those emotions according to the directives of the Scriptures.

A Christian who deliberately hurts people physically or emotionally when he is angry, is either not a Christian, or he is not a very mature Christian. Maturity has to do with accepting one’s responsibilities – no matter what they are – and as Christians we are given mandates that we are responsible to God for, regarding how to handle our emotions.

We are not to “bottle” our emotions, but neither are we to just “have at it” with our emotions. We are to find mature ways to deal with our emotions so that they do not get out of hand and cause emotional problems or cause us to make problems for ourselves through violence or other issues.

Now, let’s look again at the quote above: “Christian spirituality, without an integration of emotional health, can be deadly – to yourself, your relationship with God, and the people around you.” We would think that Scazzero means ‘spiritual maturity’ because “Christian spirituality” seems to be redundant…but it is in fact not redundant, because what Scazzero means by spirituality is esoteric eastern nonsense.

Spirituality as defined in the way that Scazzero means – from the eastern religions – means a spiritual process of re-forming oneself in order to orientate oneself towards contact, experience, and subsummation into the god within. In other words, through spiritual meditation and exercises into the spiritual world, one contacts his inner self through which he can come face to face with higher spiritual beings who will teach him how to live life well now, while at the same time learning to become one with the supreme being (or beings) who are transient and dwell within all other things. In this language, we hear about “ascended master’s,” personal growth with an emphasis upon personal experience with spirits, and other non-Biblical terms and teachings.

Spirituality in this sense means that there is no right or wrong way to reach god. One person might seek god through meditation, another through yoga, another through drug experimentation, etc. The term “spirituality” generally addresses spiritual paths outside of Biblical directions to do so. Spirituality generally has no rules for what is right and wrong, good and evil, neither is there a right path to God or a wrong path, but any path may be found by particular individuals in their search for universal truth and harmony.

A simple web search for the meaning of spirituality will show a definite differentiation between what the Bible tells us about relationship with God, and some definitions of spirituality will even include religious awareness and/or religious attendance (church, mosque, temple, etc.). What we will not find, is anything close to how God’s Word tells us that we must come to God. Thus, the term “spirituality” has little to nothing to do with Christianity. We must remember Scazzero’s background…a Catholic background where he has mixed Buddhist/Hindu teachings and practices with his brand of ‘christianity.’

Christian ‘spirituality’ cannot be separated from emotional health, strictly because one’s emotional health is part and parcel of one’s walk with God. Controlling one’s emotions has a direct impact upon our behavior, and one who is not controlling his/her behavior is not, by definition, on the pathway to spiritual maturity. The belabored point here, is that one cannot be actively walking with God and not be bringing under control his emotions and feelings, because one who is actively walking with God strives to be holy and righteous (things that ‘spirituality’ does not address regarding a divine being).

Having said all that, in the quote Scazzero says that being emotionally unhealthy can destroy ourselves, our relationship with God, as well as with those around us. While his round-about way of teaching includes esoteric terms and language, what he says is true – if a person allows his emotions to run away with him, and allows them to cause him to do things that he should not be doing, he will most definitely destroy his relationship with God, others, and potentially destroy every area of his life.

However, his book does not address the foremost thing that Scripture tells us to do in order to become spiritually mature…walking in obedience to God and applying the spiritual precepts to our lives which the Bible gives us to do.

On page 8 he says he did something that no pastor of a church of God should ever do…he says that he lied to someone visiting his congregation. According to the Scriptures and the attitudes that they give us concerning ministers, anyone who calls himself a pastor that lies to anyone, much less someone in their congregation, is not a person that should be filling the pulpit.

On page 10 he says the following: “I was stuck at an immature level of spiritual and emotional development. And my then-present way of living the Christian life was not transforming the deep places in my life.” While I have no doubt that this was (and most likely still is) the truth about him, Scazzero fails to understand that Scripture tells us how to move into spiritual maturity – and it has nothing to do with the eastern esoteric meditative nonsense that he outlines in his book.

Spiritual (and emotional) maturity as the Scriptures outline them, has to do primarily with walking in obedience to God’s Word, putting into practice what the Bible tells us to do, such as the passages given above. Walking in obedience to God is the only way to come to spiritual maturity, and it is the only way to come to emotional maturity as the Bible outlines it. And this is one of the main reasons why people are leaving the church today without even realizing it – because they would have personal experiences with God IF they were walking in obedience to His Word. Sadly, however, obedience to God today is not one of the main subjects preached about.

On pages 10-11, Scazzero may correctly pin-point the feelings of those who are leaving the church in droves when he says; “Researchers have been charting the departing dust of those known as ‘church leavers’ – an increasingly large group that has been gathering numbers in recent years…what went wrong? They were sincere followers of Jesus Christ, but they struggled as much as anyone else with their marriages, divorces, friendships, parenting, singleness, sexuality, addictions, insecurities, drive for approval, and feelings of failure and depression at work, church, and home…what went wrong with the church?” He continues on to page 11 in saying; “After many years of frustration and disappointment, realizing that the black and white presentations of the life of faith did not fit with their life experience, they quit – at least internally…they grew weary of Christians around them who, regardless of their ‘knowledge’ of God, church involvement, and zeal, were angry, compulsive, highly opinionated, defensive, proud, and too busy to love the Jesus they professed…They can’t quite put their finger on the problem, but they know something is not right. Something is missing.”

Although what he states above is true…in that there is something missing in a vast majority of churches in this country today…what Scazzero fails to pin-point is exactly what is missing. He fails to address what is missing because he himself does not know what it is. In effort to give the church what he feels it is missing, Scazzero instead gives hundreds of churches nationwide, and thousands of Christians around the world (possibly millions) eastern mystical, Buddhist and Hindu meditation practices so that – in his mind – will give them a better chance at experiencing God in their personal lives.

He is not far from the truth. What is missing in our churches today is that people go to church in search of God. They want to come into contact with God face to face as it were…they believe and exercise faith in Him, but their hearts yearn for contact with Him, but they are just not finding it in church. While this is not a paper on why the church does not meet with God, for the most part, I will basically state that the reason why we don’t meet God and come into contact with Him in church…is because our churches today, for the most part, are pastored by men and women whom God has never called into His ministry.

If God has not given you a specific call into ministry by some divine contact – be it through a prophet, evangelist, vision, or other means – then you have no business filling the position of the pastor of a church. Period. He whom God calls, He also equips. And when a person fills the position and office of pastor who has not been called by God into that position and office, then that person is not equipped for that job. If he isn’t equipped for the job, he will not be able to do the job…just as a person who has not been called by God to be a prophet will not be able to do the job of a prophet. He will be a false prophet, calling down upon himself the wrath of God for doing what he is not called to do. That should be a stern warning for any and all who take up the mantle of what God Himself has not called him to do. Read Ephesians 4:11-14 for the duties of those church offices of ministry.

What am I saying? I am saying that if you study the texts in Scripture that deals with ministry, it is God who gives a certain (solid, concrete) call into the ministry, and He equips those with special spiritual giftings to be able to perform the call He places upon them. If one is not called to be a pastor, then he will not be able to take the church into God’s presence in worship, he will not be able to see in Scripture the key things that people need in order to become spiritually mature, and he will not be able to give you what you need in order to approach God according to Scripture. This is one reason why I see that Scazzero is not called by God to be the pastor of the church he is currently pastoring…because if he was, he would see the problem – the true problem – and address it according to Scripture; not according to eastern religious esoteric meditation nonsense that has the ability to get people demon possessed.

On page 16 he hits a milestone: “A yoke, in ancient Palestine, was made of wood, handmade to fit perfectly to the neck and shoulders of oxen and prevent chafing or cutting. In the same way, Jesus’ assurance of a ‘light, easy yoke’ can be translated as follows: ‘I have crafted a life for you, a yoke for you to wear that perfectly fits who you are. It is light and easy, I promise.’ The reality, however, is that after many years as an active Christian, I felt exhausted and in need of a break. My life was lived more out of reaction to what other people did or might do or what they thought or might think about me. I knew in my head we were to live to please God. Living like that was another matter.”

I want to focus in on the bold text, where Scazzero is confused and gives us his erroneous interpretation of what Jesus actually states. The text that he refers to (Matthew 11:28-30) does not translate to saying that Christ has fashioned a “yoke for you to wear that perfectly fits who you are.” God calls us to move from who we are (practicing sinners) into a life of holiness and righteousness, He does not fashion a yoke for us for “who you are.” The yoke that He speaks of always ‘yokes’ two working animals together, and this is what Jesus is promising: that He will yoke us together with Him and He shares our burdens and empowers us to the work…as long as that is what we are doing.

The work we are to be doing is working on ourselves to bring ourselves into His likeness, to transform ourselves into His image on earth. That only takes place through commitment to Him and walking in obedience to Him. It does not come about only through prayer, or worship, or doing good things, or doing ministry (especially if you have not been called by God into the ministry). We do not become the image of Christ in maturity, or anything else, if we are not walking in obedience to Christ. This is the second reason why the church is failing today: we not only have pastors who are not called by God into leading His people, we also have churches full of people who put on their Sunday best, go to church, and then go home and leave their ‘christianity’ back at the church doors.

Some people like to say that what makes them a Christian is what they believe, and that is childish nonsense. Do you become a car if you believe that you are a car? Do you become a cheeseburger if you believe that you are a cheeseburger? Can you fly if you believe that you can fly? Let’s take it further…are you a lawyer simply because you want to believe that you are? Can you make yourself a police officer just because you want to believe that you are a police officer?

The obvious answer is no. Neither are you a Christian just because you believe in Christ. This “easy believism” nonsense in the church today is what’s killing the church today. What makes you a Christian is following Christ in obedience, which is what Scripture teaches from Genesis to Revelation.

On page 17, Scazzero repeats an oft-repeated mantra of his, the center issue of the book, “It is not possible to be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature.” While he correctly identifies a problem, he both looks at the problem, and addresses the problem, from the viewpoint of a salesman, not a psychologist. In fact, it is impossible for a person to be spiritually mature in Christianity, and be emotionally immature at the same time; why? Simply because our emotions, and how we process them, are part and parcel of becoming spiritually mature. The problem with Scazzero’s approach here, is that he looks at the two events as two separate and individual problems, when they are not.

A person who is reading the Scriptures, praying (which includes more than simply your “please do this” list, but actually coming to God for personal and intimate communion and fellowship), worshiping God personally at home, will not start down the road to Christian maturity until they begin to walk in obedience to God and do what the Bible instructs us to do. And again, Scazzero never touches on obedience to God at all…not once…in the entire 227 pages of the book.

On page 19 we see one of the areas in his life that suggests that he was never called by God to pastor a church, lacking the spiritual gifting to understand Scripture and obedience. He says, “I had been taught that the way to approach life was through fact, faith, and feelings, in that order. As a result, anger, for example, was simply not important to my walk with God. In fact, it was dangerous and needed to be suppressed.” He goes on to the end of the paragraph, stating that he was “asking God to take away my ‘bad’ feelings and make me like Christ.”

Two things here: first, Scripture does not tell us to suppress anger, it tells us to forgive the one who made us angry because of whatever they did or said. When we don’t forgive like we are commanded to, then God says that He will no longer forgive us. When we walk in disobedience to God, we are not walking in obedience to Him…we are not being transformed into the image of Christ, and we are not on the road to spiritual maturity in Christ. Second, God tells us to conform to the image of Christ, Scripture does not tell us anywhere that God will snap His fingers and “poof!” we magically become the image of Christ. That is our job, not God’s, and we only work on becoming the image of Christ through walking in obedience to Him.

Down at the bottom of page 19, we read the following: “I learned that if we do the hard work of integrating emotional health and spirituality, we can truly experience the wonderful promises God has given us.” Here, the sad truth is that Scazzero is deceived, completely. First, notice that he once again returns to the term “spirituality,” and note that he does not use the word in the Biblical sense. How do I know this? Because if he was using it in the Biblical sense of the word, he would next address obedience to God, but he does not. Secondly, he is deceived in thinking that eastern esoteric meditations lead people into experiencing “the wonderful promises God has given us,” because those promises only come to those who are abiding in the New Covenant through obedience to the Law of Christ…not through Hindu meditations.

Many, many Christians do not experience the promises of God in their lives because…because they only believe they are Christians when they really are not. A person is a Christian when they follow Christ’s teachings and walk in obedience to God, because it is then that they abide in the New Covenant – the marriage covenant of God to “whosoever will” come to Him on His terms.

For far too long the church, especially in the West, has ignored the fact and implication that the Bible is made up of two covenants, not two “testaments.” A covenant is not a testament. They are both legal instruments of ancient juris prudence (law), but they served two completely different purposes legally. The New Testament is not a testament, it is the New Covenant in Christ, and until the church learns exactly what that means, and what it directly implies, she (the church) will continue to have problems and remain spiritually impotent and powerless to affect change in either the individual, or the world around her.

Case in point, the promises of God are covenant promises, given by God to those who abide in the New Covenant. We remain abiding in the New Covenant through walking in obedience to God. If we are not walking in obedience to God, then we are not abiding in Christ or the New Covenant. If you are not abiding in Christ or the New Covenant, then you do not have any legal right to have any of the promises of God…and that includes eternal life. When people believe through false doctrine that they don’t have to walk in obedience to God because Christ’s righteousness is what its all about, then human tendency is to not do what we don’t have to do.

People get saved and then never engage God in either personal relationship, nor walk in obedience to Him (which is what leads to all the problems in Christians’ lives that this book addresses)…in effect, they walk through the front doors of the church, and then spiritually walk right out the back doors, never knowing that they did. They attend church on Sundays and perhaps even mid-week service, but they have no relationship with God physically or spiritually…and like Scazzero, years later wonder why they don’t experience God and their lives are falling apart.

Throughout the book we read sentences akin to “Allow God to love you where you are now,” and the like (page 20). This is nonsense. God loves us all day long, every day, wherever we are, whatever we are doing – even when we sin. This phrase, and all those like it, are not only deceptive but down right unbiblical.

On page 24 Scazzero gives us a list of 10 things he believes are symptoms of being emotionally unhealthy…most of which is sincere nonsense. In numbers 2 and 3 (Ignoring the emotions of…; and Dying to the wrong things) he gets close, but not close enough to do the reader of his book any real good. The main symptom (and cause) of being emotionally unhealthy for the Christian, is found solidly in the fact that one is not walking in obedience to God.

Oh, he may not be spending hours in pornography or using foul language, and she may not be spending hours gossiping over the phone or masturbating in wild fantasies, but neither are they doing what God tells us to do in the Bible. People don’t spend quality time in prayer, they don’t spend time bettering themselves as far as God is concerned, training themselves to be kind and loving to others. They spend more time in front of their computers, TV’s, phones and iPads than they do in personal praise and worship and reading God’s Word. Walking in obedience to God includes much, much more than simply obeying the 10 Commandments (which is what most people think).

On page 28 Scazzero shows that he knows little about sanctification, and gives us reason to believe that the gospel that he preaches to his congregation is primarily a social gospel, not the gospel of Christ (which follows suit since he also appears to be part and parcel of the Emerging Church movement). He says, “Part of the sanctification process of the Holy Spirit is to strip away the false constructs we have accumulated and enable our true selves to emerge.”

Pure adulterated nonsense. Sanctification has everything to do with bringing the Christian into deeper and deeper levels of walking in holiness before God. There is nothing inherently holy about a human being…there is nothing hiding deep within a person (our “true selves”) that the Holy Spirit is trying to let loose to emerge within us. We were indeed created as holy and righteous beings, but sin has marred what we were created as, and causes us to be what we are today. What we were created to be is not “our true selves,” because no matter how far down we go, what we were created to be has been destroyed.

The whole purpose of God now, is to bring those who so desire, through the battlefield of this life into a personal and intimate walk with Him through relationship and obedience. In fact, 90% of that relationship on our part, is obedience. When you walk in sin during the week (which entails both doing what God has told you not to do, as well as not doing what He has told you to do), and then stand in church with your hands raised, singing at the top of your voice – even if it is a true worship song – your worship is nothing more than a stench in the nose of God. Worship (in any form) without obedience (in every form), is actually an abomination to God. Read the first 12 verses of Jeremiah chapter seven for more clarification if you need it.

On page 30-31, Scazzero quotes Ron Sider’s book, The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience, in saying, “Whether the issue is marriage and sexuality or money and care for the poor, evangelicals today are living scandalously unbiblical lives…The data suggest that in many crucial areas evangelicals are not living any differently from their unbelieving neighbors.” So, Scazzero quotes Sider who obviously sees the problem in the mainline church today (walking in disobedience to God and to the Word of God) yet Scazzero’s approach to fixing the issue isn’t writing a book to motivate Christians to start walking in obedience to God…instead, he writes a book telling Christians to follow Buddhist and Hindu meditate practices so that (in his mind and words) they can “experience God.”

According to Scripture, if you want to experience God, hear His voice and enjoy having Him speak to you in your spirit, and enjoy feeling His presence…then you spend quality time with Him in prayer, in personal worship, and by walking in obedience to Him. Why did Paul, Peter, and Philip in the Book of Acts hear the Spirit speak to them? Because they were walking in obedience to Him, and the more we do so, the more He will speak to us because we are following His leading.

In Romans 8:14, Paul writes that those who follow the leading of the Spirit are the children of God. It does not matter if you got saved at age 16, if you are not actively following the leading of the Spirit, whether by unction or voice in your spirit, then you are not following His leading, and according to Paul, then, you are not really a child of God, no matter what you think. Meditating upon a mantra or your breathing will not cause you to walk in obedience to God.

In the tenth thing that Scazzero gives as a symptom of being emotionally unhealthy spiritually, Judging Other People’s Spiritual Journey (beginning on page 36), he falls back into the eastern mystic definition of spirituality again. On page 37 he says, “By failing to let others be themselves before God and move at their own pace, we inevitably project onto them our own discomfort with their choice to live life differently than we do…” This is echoed in the EHS Workbook, on page 12 under Suggested Guidelines for group study, under the heading “No Fixing, Saving, No setting Other People Straight,” we read…

Respect people’s journeys and trust the Holy Spirit inside of them to lead them into all truth – in his timing. Resist the temptation to offer quick advice as people share in the group.

Basically, what Scazzero is saying, it that it is OK if someone believes a false doctrine and that fact comes out somehow in the group discussion. It is OK if someone believes New Age doctrine because their journey just isn’t ‘there’ yet. It is OK if someone believes that they can engage in sexual behavior outside of marriage…the Holy Spirit will teach them that it is the wrong thing to do.

Scazzero directly contradicts Scriptural teaching here, so just for the record, and to be thorough in the exposure of his mentality here…

 

I Timothy 4:1                                                                                                                                     Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons,

II Timothy 4:4                                                                                                                                     and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

II Peter 2:1-2                                                                                                                                        But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed.

Hebrews 13:9                                                                                                                                        Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them.

 

In these passages we are told that false doctrines and ignorance of the Truth will surely come into the church, and Paul tells us that we are saved by having correct knowledge of the Truth (II Thess. 2:13). In the following passages, we are told to correct those who believe things that are not the truth…we are never told to just let them go and hope that the Holy Spirit will teach them what they need to know (which nonsense we will address below)…

II Timothy 2:25                                                                                                                                        in gentleness, correcting those who oppose themselves, who repeatedly choose to hold to attitudes about things which are contrary to the gospel out of ignorance of truth; so that God might give them understanding, causing them to repent of their attitudes, and then move into a complete knowledge of the truth.

II Timothy 3:16                                                                                                                                     All Scripture is prompted by God, and is useful for direction in teaching, to bring about conviction and correction, for directing educative discipline into conformity to righteousness.

Ephesians 4:14                                                                                                                                       so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.

 

Many are under the false notion that the job of the Spirit is to lead us into all truth as is incorrectly interpreted from passages like John 14:26 (“but…the Holy Spirit…will teach you all things”), in which case Jesus was only speaking to the apostles, which does not filter down to Christians today; and I John 2:27 (“and which will teach you all things”). Sadly, many completely forget the words immediately preceding those above; “and you have no need that anyone should teach you.” Yet, God ordains and commissions teachers in the church…but why, if the Holy Spirit is the one who will “teach you all things?”

One reason, is that the majority of people don’t understand the Scriptures, for various reasons. For another reason, which is not widely taught in the church today, not everyone who claims to be a Christian has the Holy Spirit dwelling within them, to be able to teach them the Truth. Remember, the Holy Spirit is a gift from God accorded only to those who remain abiding in the New Covenant, which we do by walking in obedience to Him. Therefore, if you got saved 3 years ago, but have not been walking in obedience to God from the 4th week after getting saved, then you have been calling yourself a Christian when you were only playing church, and you have not had the Spirit dwelling within you since that time.

Scazzero’s advise in leaving people to their false ideologies of Scripture and God, is just one more piece of evidence that he doesn’t have the Holy Spirit, and that he is not guided by Scripture, but rather by eastern esoteric religious teachings of paganism.

At the end of chapter 2, on page 37, Scazzero writes: “The pathway to unleashing the transformative power of Jesus to heal our spiritual lives can be found in the joining of emotional health and contemplative spirituality.” So, basically, what he is saying, is that we don’t need to walk in obedience to God in order to become spiritually mature (which includes becoming emotionally mature)…what we need to do is practice contemplative spirituality. That is, we need to practice Buddhist and Hindu meditative practices in order to enter into the spiritual realm, meet spirits there or contact the god within, and experience a personal encounter with what you would call the Holy Spirit or God/Jesus Himself.

This is nothing more than what is called today as “Christian mysticism,” which is summed up well by one web site:

 

Christ is the sole end of Christian mysticism. Whereas all Christians have Christ, call on Christ, and can (or should) know Christ, the goal for the Christian mystic is to become Christ—to become as fully permeated with God as Christ is, thus becoming like him, fully human, and by the grace of God, also fully divine. (http://www.frimmin.com/faith/mysticismintro.php)

 

Now, while not all so-called ‘christian mystics’ believe the last sentence above – that their goal is to become “fully divine” – this mysticism is exactly what Scazzero alludes to in this book, which is readily observed in his numerous references to, and quotes from, Catholic mystics (Brother Lawrence, Brennan Manning, Thomas Merton, Richard Rohr, Parker Palmer, Henri Nouwen, and John of the Cross). No undeluded, undeceived Christian in their right mind would ever even consider trying to “become Christ,” nor is that even possible. No person can ever even hope to attain to the reality of having the fullness of what Christ was, simply because He was Yahweh God in the flesh. But mysticism…going as far back as Christianity itself…is just the same old lie of satan to Eve in the garden, just wrapped up within Christian terminology – ‘you, too, can become a god.”

The beginning of chapter three starts out like this; “Once people begin their journey with Jesus Christ and join a church or community, our first task is to help them connect with God and grow spiritually. Our sincere hope is that they will allow the Word and the Spirit to transform each aspect of their lives. We teach them to…” then we find listed eight things that Scazzero apparently believes needs to happen in order for the new Christian to supposedly thrive spiritually – conspicuously missing from that list is obedience to God, especially when it comes to renewing our minds and walking in the Spirit.

This may be an oversight on his part, but the first task in helping those who want to begin the journey in life with Christ, is to make sure that they have indeed come to Christ on His terms and are saved. If the person is not yet saved, then absolutely nothing else that he does with his congregants will ever make a difference…they are still on their way to hell. They may well be living a good life, but as we all know, just being good does not cut the mustard when they stand before a holy God.

Then he goes on to say, “After a few years many find that past, deeply rooted behavioral patterns that move them away from Christ remain entrenched. And what we’re teaching them simply isn’t enough to combat those patterns. What most people are left with is a long list of things to do and not to do – ten new things to feel guilty about messing up on. What is needed is the injection of an antidote into all aspects of the Christian life – an antidote that turns our spiritual lives right side up. I’m talking about emotional health and contemplative spirituality” (emphasis in bold is his).

First, the only way to destroy those “deeply rooted behavioral patterns that move them away from Christ” is to obey the Word of God and renew their minds with the Word so that they can walk in the Spirit. If one’s mind is not renewed by the Word of God, nothing else that one tries to do for God, or in order to move closer to God, will ever work. The problem is first and foremost in the flesh (Romans ch. 7), and it is only through renewing the mind so that we can walk in the Spirit that the “motions of the flesh” can be “put to death” or, as the KJV says it, “mortified” (Romans ch. 8:1-13; Galatians 5:16-17).

Galatians 5:16-17                                                                                                                                But I say, walk in the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh, because the flesh wars against the spirit, and fights against the spirit, in order to keep you from doing the spiritual things that you want to do.

 

No amount of Buddhist or Hindu meditation practices will stop the desires and passions of the flesh. Secondly (skipping the other unbiblical points that he messes up), contemplative spirituality, which he will give an awkward definition to here shortly, will not help. All it does is give a person an emotional and experiential “band-aid” and bring them close to demonic possession. Thirdly, Scazzero’s interpretation of Revelation is anything but accurate, thus the point he tries to make with it is also grossly missed.

On pages 45-46, Scazzero lists what, in his mind, contemplative spirituality is and does. This list follows immediately after a list of 12 things he thinks emotional health means; some of them are legitimate, but not all. The list making up his definition of what CS also has 12 items: we will address some of them here.

  1. Awakening and surrendering to God’s love in any and every situation.”

Scazzero apparently has a warped sense of things here, either that or he has known some people who had a warped sense of things. God loves all people, He does not love our sin, but He loves those whom He has created, even sinners. “Awakening” and “surrendering” to God’s love is a misnomer, and if we think about it according to the Scriptures, it really makes no sense at all.

 

  1. Positioning ourselves to hear God and remember his presence in all we do.”

A couple of things here; first, we position ourselves in order to hear God through Biblical prayer (as opposed to contemplative ‘prayer,’ which is not prayer at all, as we shall soon discuss), worship, and walking in obedience to Him. If we are not walking in obedience to Him, then you will “listen” for years and never hear Him speak (unless He really wants to point something out to you). Second, by “positioning ourselves” to hear God, Scazzero means, literally or figuratively, sitting a certain way, focusing upon a certain thing, emptying your mind, meditating upon a word or short phrase (mantra), and being silent so that you can hear a voice. None of this is Scriptural.

I, and many whom I have conversed with in the Christian community who have heard God speak to us, have had the same experience: it does not matter what you are doing, where you are, or how noisy you or your surroundings are…when God wants to speak to you, He can and you will hear His voice. I have been in the middle of praying, both whispering and out loud, even praying while crying out in tears, and when God spoke, it came over loud and clear in my spirit. This nonsense teaching today that you have to be quiet in order to hear that “small, still quiet voice” is nothing more than just that – nonsense.

Third, we don’t need to “remember his presence in all we do” because remembering does not amount to a hill of beans. We can, and should, remember the Lord in all we do, and we should also do all that we do for His glory. However, we are human, and being human we cannot live in His presence 100% of the time, and those who think that we can don’t know what they are talking about. When a person has really come into the presence of God, things happen that we cannot control. When a person comes into the presence of God, they weep, sometimes uncontrollably; they fall prostrate upon the floor, if they can remain in His presence for very long at all. The point is this, if we were in His presence for very long of a time, we could not function…the beds wouldn’t get made, we couldn’t drive to work (or anywhere, for that matter), we couldn’t work, we wouldn’t eat, etc.

I have been in the presence of God and I have conversed with others who have been, and while it is a wonderful experience that one never forgets for the rest of their lives, we in our human bodies cannot sustain that experience. Now, some people have misjudged what they think being in God’s presence is. They feel tingly all over and their hands might even begin to shake, but that is not what it is like being in the presence of God. When you are in His presence, your mind doesn’t think and your body only reacts to it like Jell-O would react to be struck by lightning. What I mean is that it is involuntary: you weep, some speak in tongues if they can speak at all, you fall to the ground prostrate or flat before Him, sometimes you can’t see anything, even with your eyes wide open, sometimes you can’t hear anything until the experience is over.

 

  1. Communing with God, allowing him to fully indwell the depth of our being.”

This is more esoteric nonsense. God does not fully indwell the depth of our beings, He can’t…if He did, we would literally explode. God told Moses that “No man can see My face and live,” so if we cannot even look upon His face and live, how much more can the human body not contain His fullness? Jesus didn’t even have the fullness of God dwelling within Him; He did have the fullness of the Spirit, but not God as Yahweh Himself in His fullness. The wording Scazzero uses here is reminiscent of the same wording you can find in Buddhist or Hindu writings on the subject, but when they speak, they speak in the sense of allowing a spirit to enter into them and dwell in the depths of their bodies…and the spirits they are asking into them is not the Spirit of God.

Furthermore, we can commune with God anywhere we are, whenever we want to, because communing is simply talking to. We should get into the practice of talking to the Lord all throughout our days, about anything and everything, He should be our best friend. However, meditating and focusing on your breathing, or upon a word or phrase, is not communing with God.

 

  1. Practicing silence, solitude, and a life of unceasing prayer.”

No where in Scripture are we taught to be silent in order to hear God, and the verses that these so-called “christian” contemplatives use as support for this teaching are taken out of context and twisted (which is nothing new). No where in Scripture are we told that we need to practice solitude in the way in which Scazzero means here. Yes, we need to get alone with God, that is a no-brainer. However, it is not humanly possible to live “a life of unceasing prayer.” We can do like Daniel and pray three times a day, and talk to Him all throughout our day, but there are some things that require our full attention…otherwise we will find ourselves in a lot of trouble in every area of our lives.

 

  1. Resting attentively in the presence of God.”

I have already addressed this above; if you are indeed in the presence of God, you will not be attentive in anything, because you won’t be able to. Resting attentively while you feel tingly all over is just sitting there with tinglies…that’s it.

 

  1. Understanding our earthly life as a journey of transformation toward ever-increasing union with God.”

This is straight out of Hinduism. All one need do is a web search for union with God in Hinduism, and paying close attention to the words and how they are used. We are said to be transformed through ‘self-consciousness,’ and we attain ‘union with God through experience,’ and even ‘Christ’ as the Hindu uses the term.

 

  1. Adapting historic practices of spirituality that are applicable today.”

By “historical practices” Scazzero refers to the Catholic practices of mystic monks and so-called “desert fathers” of Catholicism; he does not refer to anything Scriptural or Christian. Keep in mind that in the ‘tradition’ of the so-called “christian-Buddhist” conglomeration, certain Catholics have not only adopted Buddhist/Hindu meditation principles into their daily routines, but then – because they believe themselves to be Christians following the Bible – they turn around and call it historical practices of the Christian faith. Again, remember that these people adopt Christian vocabulary just as easily as Buddhists and Hindus (and other pagan religions) adopt Jesus Christ as one of their venerated teachers, and both religions claim that Jesus visited major centers of each during His so-called “lost years” before turning 30 and starting His ministry.

Therefore, even though they ‘sound’ Christian, what they are teaching not only does not come from the Bible, but it actually goes against what Scripture teaches us concerning God and how He has instructed us to walk in godliness before Him. There is no “historical practices” within Christianity involving esoteric eastern religious meditations, and all such meditation practices take one dangerously close to demonic possession to one extent or another.

At the end of this list on page 46, Scazzero says, “The combination of emotional health and contemplative spirituality addresses what I believe to be the missing piece in contemporary Christianity. Together they unleash the Holy Spirit inside us in order that we might know experientially the power of an authentic life in Christ.” Sadly, Scazzero is deceived and doesn’t understand many things.

First, as stated before, what is missing from contemporary Christianity is personal righteousness and holiness among those who call themselves Christians. They live their lives, for the most part, just like they did before they got “saved” and do not pursue living holy and righteous lives. Holiness and righteousness are two sides of the same coin – called obedience. Righteousness is obeying God in doing what is right in His eyes, and holiness is keeping oneself from doing what is not right in God’s eyes. Both make up the nature of obedience, and when people who claim to be God’s children do not even attempt to live holy and righteous lives, then they do not have the abundant life that Jesus came to give them, nor do they possess any of the gifts or promises of God.

As has also been already spoken here, the two main reasons for this tragedy is that most churches are not pastored by those whom God has divinely called to take up the mantle of that position, and because of false teachings in the church since the Reformation and Calvin. When the church is told that we don’t need to do anything in order to maintain our standing with God as having eternal life, which is a direct contradiction to what the Scriptures teach, then human nature is to do exactly that…nothing. We instinctively know that we should, but if we are told that we don’t need to, then we don’t even try – we would much rather do what we want to do. And so, when we do what we want to do, rather than what God tells us to do in His Word, then we no longer remain abiding in Christ wherein all the blessings and gifts of God abide.

Secondly, contemplative spirituality does not “unleash the Holy Spirit inside us,” and this is a ridiculous statement for Scazzero to make if he was indeed called by God into any kind of ministry. The Holy Spirit indwells the believer walking in obedience to God, and any kind of ‘unleashing’ of the Spirit into our lives, or through our lives, comes directly from walking in obedience to His voice. Third, what brings the experience and “the power of an authentic life in Christ” into our lives is, again, walking in obedience to God…not sitting in silent contemplation of the universe in order to hear a spirit speak to us, especially when that spirit is not God.

On page 47, Scazzero says the following: “Awareness of and responding to the love of God is at the heart of our lives. We are first and foremost about God revealed in Christ.” I am sorry, but this is either the epidemy of lies from this book, or Scazzero is so deceived that he can’t see the forest for the trees. First, Scripture tells us how to respond to God’s love – by loving Him back; and we love on Him by walking in obedience to Him, not by sitting still focusing on our breathing and chanting a word or mantra…

 

John 14:15                                                                                                                                                If you love Me, then you will obey My commandments.

I John 5:3                                                                                                                                     Because this is how we love on God: we obey His commandments, and His commandments are not burdensome.

 

This is why I have such a hard time with people who are in Christian ministry who never received the tangible call of God on their lives…because they don’t understand simple, basic teachings (or they refuse to acknowledge them) of the Scriptures. The second great deception here is found in his words, “We are first and foremost about God revealed in Christ,” because if that was what was first and foremost about Scazzero, he wouldn’t be turning to pagan practices in effort to have an experience with God. What his book teaches has nothing to do with God revealed in Christ, it is all about how to practice a form of meditation that Buddhists and Hindus use in order to make contact with spirits that will supposedly help them to reach the god that lives within them.

Perhaps Scazzero is being completely straightforward and honest in his mind about what he is teaching people to do here…but he does so in ignorance of the Truth found in Scripture…

 

Ephesians 4:17-18                                                                                                                             Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them

 

On the same page, he says, “At the same time contemplation is not simply about our relationship with God.” Here is another misnomer in the works, contemplation is redefined in CS and does not mean what contemplation normally means. In the real world, contemplation means that you are thinking about something, contemplating it from all sides, meditation upon it…but in CS, contemplation is elevated to the place of relationship with God, it is placed upon equal standing with prayer.

Prayer is always accomplished by speaking (there are a few instances where people were only thinking in communion with God, but for the most part, prayer is talking to Him)…not simply thinking about a word or phrase or meditating upon the things of the world around us because ‘God is in everything’ (pantheism) so thinking about nature is thinking about God. CS has nothing to do with our relationship with God. Scazzero also equates contemplation a few lines down with “loving union with God.” Again, the CS version of contemplation is not a loving union with God…it isn’t even union with God in any sense of the word.

This kind of mentality comes straight out of Hindu religious thought and doctrine, not Scripture. A personal relationship with God is nothing less than how we engage each other in personal relationship; we speak to each other, take each other places, spend quality time with each other, and when we love another person we sometimes will even sing to them. A personal relationship with God consists of prayer (not just intercessory prayer, but also spending quality time just talking to Him about whatever), personal worship, and walking in obedience to Him. The more we walk in obedience to Him with the above combination of quality prayer and worship, He begins to speak to us and guide us to do things – thus we experience Him speaking to us and coming to know Him on a more intimate and personal basis. Without this loving walk with God where He begins to interact with us because we are loving on Him the way He tells us that He accepts love, then our “Christian walk” is not Christian, it is just living and playing church, and we get discouraged and leave the church because we are not experiencing God.

At the bottom of page 49, we see a diagram where “Contemplation” is sub-titled “Being with God.” Again, this is pure paganistic nonsense. Sitting in a room by yourself, emptying your mind, meditating upon a mantra if you need to, with your back straight and focusing on your breathing in effort to silence your thoughts, is NOT “being with God.” It is being with yourself…but then again, because this is based upon Hindu teachings, and god is already dwelling within all of his creation, to them you are spending time with the god that is in you. However, that god is not Yahweh God of the Bible; that god is you, and we are taught that enlightenment comes to show you that you are

 

This is the end of the first section, I will pick up on the second section of Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero in a later entry.

 

 

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Renew Your Minds!!!

Renewing our minds in Scripture is so important to your spiritual walk, that…basically… you cannot walk spiritually (as far as God is concerned) until you do. But, don’t take my word for it, let’s examine the Scriptures on the subject . . .

Romans 12:2
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Most of us do not come to the Lord until we are at least teenagers or early adults, by that time our minds have been so inundated by the ways and things of the world – meaning sinful things and sinful ways of thinking – that unless God completely changes the way we think at the moment we get saved (which I have seen, but not too often), then we need to swap those things out of our minds for the things of God. Why?

Because the saved, regenerated person now has two natures, where before we only had one – the sin nature, that is, as Paul puts it in Romans 7, the flesh. Sin dwells in our flesh, that’s why we will fight against sin for the rest of our lives on this planet, because the new nature that dwells within us, the new man, is constantly being attacked by the sin nature that dwells in the flesh. Paul puts it this way . . .

Romans 7:18-20
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good that I want to do, but the evil that I do not want to do is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, then it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

Again, here Paul is speaking about the flesh when he says the sin “that dwells within me,” he is not saying that sin dwells within us through-and-through, like some groups out there today teach. There is a separation between the flesh and the spirit, sin lives in the flesh, not the spirit of a person. If a person spends enough time in sin then it begins to affect his mind, and if he remains practicing sin long enough then it begins to seep from his mind into his spirit – but sin does not originate within one’s spirit. Again, a person’s spirit can become corrupted by becoming sin-stained (II Cor. 7:1), but sin does not originate within the spirit, nor was the human spirit damaged directly by the Fall.

Notice in Rom. 12:2 the result of renewing your mind . . . being transformed, the question is, transformed FROM what INTO what:

Ephesians 4:22-24
to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

God wants us to transform ourselves into the new man, here called “the new self,” which is created in the “likeness” of God by, and through, our walking in righteousness and holiness. Recall Genesis 1:26 when God created Adam and Eve; it says that He made man in His “image” (referring to our physical appearance – if you want to know what God looks like, just look into your mirror) and in His “likeness” (referring to His spiritual nature, that is, He created us as righteous and holy beings in spirit). That spiritual nature within man can be corrupted, as we addressed above, through the consistent practice of sinful, corrupting behavior.

God created us in such a way that our physical activities sway on our minds. If what we do is darkness, then our actions of darkness reinforce darkness within our minds, and eventually that darkness begins to stain our spirits. If what we do is light, then our actions of light reinforce the light within our minds, and we will eventually become in-tuned to our spirits and have greater capacity for communion with God. It is the same principle which Jesus speaks about here:

Matthew 6:21-23
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

When Jesus uses the word “eye” in the sentence, He was not just speaking about the physical eye, but also about the things that we purpose to look at, which is why verse 22 follows naturally after verse 21 – because both speak of the heart. If your heart is full of wicked desires, then what are you going to be looking at, what are you going to be planning to do? Whereas, if your heart is full of love for God, what are you going to be looking at, what are you desiring to do? In a way, things almost seem backwards, because the issues of life come out from the heart where our decisions are made, and while the heart affects our minds, our minds also affect the heart.

We can make a conscious decision to do good…but as Paul says, sometimes that conscious decision to do good does not affect the flesh, to give power to it in order to carry out that good thing. This is where renewing your mind comes into play, Paul says it like this:

Romans 8:5
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.

Romans 8:13
Because if you conduct your life according to the flesh, you will die; but, if you put to death the deeds of the flesh by walking in the Spirit, then you will live.

How can we put to death the actions and motions of sin in our flesh? By walking in the Spirit. How do we “walk in the Spirit?” According to the text, we walk in the Spirit by “minding” (thinking on, meditating on, having in the back of our minds, having our minds inundated and saturated by) the “things of the Spirit.” Yeeeeesssss! BUT – how do we come to the place that we can walk in the Spirit…we must first renew our minds with the Word of God.

I have learned this now, after 35 years walking with God…and can now look back and see why I struggled with certain sins all my life. Why I kept giving in to sin, why I kept fighting what seemed like a losing battle, and always turning back to God in tears because of my actions that – at a certain point in the struggle – I seemed to lose control and ended up doing what I did not really want to do. This is the reason, it took me years to learn exactly what renewing your mind means, and even longer to understand why we need to do it, and how it works.

Renewing our minds, as I stated at the outset of this entry, is so important to the person who desires to walk with God, because until we get the gunk out of our minds left over from our previous lives in the darkness of the world, there are many things that we just cannot do. Unless we renew our minds, we cannot walk in the Spirit; if we cannot walk in the Spirit, then we cannot put to death the motions of sin in our flesh, which means that we cannot consistently practice righteousness and holiness, we cannot set ourselves apart unto God – which is what sanctification is all about. We cannot consecrate ourselves wholly to God. The greater and greater that our minds are renewed, the greater and greater our walk with God becomes, the more we begin to hear His voice, the more we begin to be able to hear the voice and unctions of the Spirit in order to do what He would be leading us to do . . .

Romans 8:14
Because as many as are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

Now, I know that there will be those who read this and disagree because of the Calvinistic mindset they have been brainwashed with – but what is more important, taking the Word of God for what it teaches, or taking one’s bias over and above what the Scriptures teach? I think we all know which one we should be choosing, especially if we care more about our relationship with God than about doctrinal statements. Some people out there believe a naive way of thinking, and that is that God does everything, we don’t need to do anything. He does it all, and all we have to do is just sit back on our spiritual couch and wait until the end. Sorry, folks, but that is not what the Scriptures teach.

As the trail continues, when we renew our minds with the Word of God, our mindset begins to change, we begin to see what pleases God and what does not please Him, just as our first text states . . . “that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Because people don’t renew their minds, they cannot test the things the world tells us about stuff against God’s will, to determine what is good and ACCEPTABLE to Him, and what is not. Hence we have people calling themselves Christians today, even pastors of supposedly Christian churches today, who are saying that God created people as homosexuals, so since God made them as homosexuals, He is OK with them as long as they are in “committed, loving relationships.” I will only say this much more on the issue, God’s condemnation of homosexuality has nothing to do with love or relationships, it has to do with perversion of His creation. God did not make Adam and Steve, He made Adam and Eve. I know that this is very simplistic as an answer, but the details of this subject matter is not the point of this entry.

If we do not understand what is good and acceptable to God, what His will is, then we cannot be led by the Spirit because we will reject what the Spirit may be trying to lead us to do. Look at Eph. 4:22-24 again . . .

Ephesians 4:22-24
to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

We are to “put off your old self,” the man of sin, the person that we used to be when we used to run around purposing to commit as much sin as we could. That man was “corrupt through deceitful desires,” but what does that mean? It means, in our worldly state of mind, we were deceived by desires that we could not discern as being evil and wicked. I know of a man who would put his hands upon his daughter’s body in an inappropriate way, but when he was taken by his wife to counselling, he honestly didn’t see anything wrong with it, “she is my daughter, after all,” was one of his comments early on in the sessions. After 6 months of counselling, he understood that his behavior was not appropriate, that a father should not be touching his daughter in sexual ways. What was going on? This was a man who had lived for 40 years in darkness, living a life of sin, looking at pornography and so on…and all that sin deceived his mind into deeper and darker sins.

Sin will always take you further than you wanted to go, deeper into depravity than you bargained for, and puts a hook into your nose to lead you into places that you never wanted to go into. It is deceptive, and forms addictions to sin, and works to destroy everything in your life . . . all through deceiving our minds from what is real and from what is right:

Hebrews 3:13
But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

The only way to put the motions of sin in our flesh to death, or to mortify it as some Bible translations say, is to walk in the Spirit, but we cannot walk in the Spirit without renewing our minds. Further evidence of this is found in Galatians . . .

Galatians 5:16-17
But I say, walk in the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Because the flesh wars against the spirit, and fights against the spirit, in order to keep you from doing the spiritual things that you want to do. 

The sin in the flesh fights against dong righteousness, because the very definition of sin is disobedience to God. The flesh always wants to do the exact opposite of whatever it is told to do, it always wants to live in complete selfishness, doing whatever it wants to do, regardless of the consequences. For example, in some of us, the flesh just wants to have sex, and doesn’t care where it gets it . . . whether it is a son or daughter, cousin, someone of the same sex, an animal, a stuffed toy, a dead body . . . after serving in law enforcement for 25 years, I have seen things that would probably make you sick. I know, they made me sick when I heard about them, too. The flesh unrestrained will lead people to do all kinds of heinous and gross, evil, wicked sins. The ONLY way to restrain that sin, is by walking in the Spirit, which first requires renewing our minds.

If we do not renew our minds so that we can walk in the Spirit and put to death the deeds of the flesh, the sin nature, then we will find it almost impossible to practice holiness and sanctification, it will be almost impossible for us to completely consecrate ourselves to God for His purposes. What does Scripture have to say about that?

Hebrews 12:14
Strive . . . to practice holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.

Jesus said that unless we crucify the flesh, we will not be able to follow Him, we will not be able to be His disciples. Why? Because a mind, even a regenerated mind that is still filled with the thought patterns of the world from which we came out of, if it is still filled with worldly things, just as Paul states in Galatians, if we do not renew our minds so that we can walk in the Spirit and crucify the flesh, then the motions of sin in the flesh will always be fighting against us in order to keep us from walking in obedience to Christ. That is why we will not be able to follow Him and be His disciples if we do not put the deeds of the flesh to death. What Jesus said is the same as what Paul teaches, only they use different terms in saying it. Crucifying the flesh, and putting the deeds of the flesh to death, are the same thing.

 

Part II – How To Renew Our Minds

There are a couple of things to do to work on renewing our minds:

  1.  Read the Bible.

The problem with this, however, is that there is a lot of . . . for lack of a better term . . . “fluff” in just reading the Bible when it comes to working on renewing our minds. What am I talking about?

When it comes to renewing our minds, reading the Gospels, for example, does not do very much for us. There is the Sermon on the Mount where we find strong teaching on how we are to conduct our lives, but for the most part, there are few “life instructions” on how to walk as a Christian. This is the key – to find passages where “life instructions” are articulated, because these are the passages that address how we are to live and conduct our lives.

So, for another example, reading the book of Acts does not help a whole lot in the mind-renewal area, because we are looking for “new programming” in our minds, to actually re-program our thought patterns, and for that purpose simply reading the Scriptures as they are doesn’t really help a whole lot. Therefore, we have our second mind renewal technique:

2.  Make Scripture cards.

What I have done, which works really well, was to start from Matthew just so you don’t miss any good life-instruction passages, and make a list of the passages that stand out to you as life-instruction passages.

Then, when you are ready to copy the passages down onto a 3×5 card, bring up the passages one by one and write down either the verse word-for-word, or write down what the verse is saying. This is not memorization – it is not important to purposely set out to memorize these verses, that is not what we are doing, and that is not the goal in this exercise. For example, Mat. 5:6 says . . .

Matthew 5:6
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

So, the card that I wrote down for this verse, looks like this:

Mat. 5:6

Hunger and thirst to do righteousness.

I write the verse from which my wording comes from, just in case I ever want to review that passage, but I only write down on the card the main idea. For another example, Mat. 5:9 reads . . .

Matthew 5:9
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

So, the card that I wrote down for this verse looks like this:

Mat. 5:9

Strive for peace in every situation possible.

Is it registering yet? For one last example, here is what Mat. 25:31-46 says:

Matthew 25:31-46
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’

And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Now, there is DEFINITELY a lot of life-instruction going on in this passage that we don’t want to miss, but this is way too much information to place onto a 3×5 card. So, this is what my card on this passage looks like:

Mat. 25:31-46

Eternal life is reserved for those who love on Jesus by loving on others.

Then, after you go through the entire New Testament and have your cards all made out, set aside some time every day and do one of two reviews, or a combination of both – Review #1 – simply read the cards at least one time, at least two times a day. The more you read them, the more they sink in, and the faster you will renew your mind with Godly, Scriptural things – things of the Spirit. Review #2 – take the cards, and read them one by one, as many as you can in one sitting, but this time spend some quality time thinking and meditating upon what each one is saying. For example, here is my meditation and thoughts on Mat. 25:31-46 above:

Jesus said that if we love Him, we will obey Him. The Scriptures tell us that we love on God by walking in obedience to Him. Walking in love fulfills God’s commandments of the New Covenant, so when we love on people, we are loving in God. The Scriptures tell us that when we love on people, thereby loving on God, that we are abiding in Him, in God and in Christ. Eternal life is found only in Christ, and according to I John, only those who have Christ have eternal life. We only have Christ by walking in love towards others and abiding in Him, because I John also says that when we are abiding in Him, then He is also abiding in us. How do we love on people? We love on people by doing good to them, by helping them, whether they are in need of help or not. Mowing my widow neighbor’s yard when she has to pay someone else to do it, because she cannot do it, is loving on her. Paying for someone’s groceries or meal at a restaurant is loving on people. Helping someone at work with their work when I am done with my work, whether they really need help or not, is loving on that person. We love on people when we see them in need, and take up that need to fill it. There are all kinds of ways to love on people: visiting them when they are sick, making them meals when they are sick, babysitting for someone who needs a babysitter, helping them paint their fence, etc., etc.

This is just a small sample, and the more Scripture you know, then the more you can connect the dots in Scriptural subjects, but again, the purpose here is not to so much memorize Scripture, the purpose here is to change how our minds work and think, and that is best accomplished by forcing it to think about the statement or Scripture that you have just read.

Don’t be like most of us…don’t just read your Bible here and there, so many times a week (if even that!), and take 50 years to renew your mind. Take steps to renew your mind right now, today, so that you can benefit GREATLY by doing so. Want to hear God’s voice? Want to hear or feel the leading of the Spirit? Want to know what God has in store for you? Do you want to be able to get passed living in Romans chapter 7 and get to the place where you can begin living Roman’s chapter 8? Then you MUST renew your mind, and the more actively you work on this process, the faster you will accomplish it, and then reap the rewards and intimate benefits of it as your walk with God can now grow deeper and more fulfilling.

Blessings!

 

 

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Why are people leaving the church? Because most churches aren’t “doing it” right…

This entry originates out of the observation that people are leaving the church in droves, some are just simply “quitting” church altogether, some are leaving the Body of Christ and going across the line into movements like the Emerging Church Movement, which is not Christian (although they put up a Christian front), while others hop from church to church trying to find a difference worth going to.

The purpose of this article is to explain why I believe this is happening, and one trend that seems to be moving along side of this church leaving trend, is the growth of Calvinistic doctrine within the church. Churches that do not sing worship songs in their worship service, but rather, play contemporary Christian music songs in place of worship, are one of the factors for people leaving the church. Another factor is that when a church teaches that miracles are not for today, that the gifts of the Spirit are not for today, etc, removing all essences of the supernatural workings of God from the church…as Calvinism does…why would a person want to remain in that church?

Here is a question: Why do people go to church in the first place?

Answer: They go to church because they are looking for some kind of manifestation of God, they want to make contact with God, they want to have a personal experience with God. Well, when we have pastors that were never called by God to be pastors – they do not have the calling and so they are not equipped by God – because God equips those whom He calls…and if Jerry was never called by God, but called himself to be a pastor, then God has not given him what he needs in order to be able to shepherd His people. If the pastor is not equipped by God to be able to care for the sheep, then the sheep suffer.

Another reason is the lack of true worship in the church service – the Scriptures tell us that there is acceptable worship, which automatically tells us that there is “worship” that men call worship, that is NOT acceptable to God. What kind of worship is that? In the realm of singing worship, it means songs that are about us, in one way or another, or other things that are not directly praising God. For example, “The God of Angel Armies” is a find contemporary Christian song, but it is not a worship song…it was meant for Christian radio, not the worship service of a church.

Songs that are worship songs, are songs such as “Let us Adore” or “I Worship You, Almighty God” and “Glorify Thy Name” and “It is You” (Hosanna Praise and Worship)… songs where we are speaking directly to God about how great He is, about how much we love Him, etc. When churches sing contemporary Christian music in place of worship music in their church services, the presence of God never falls. Why? Because only worship music/songs attract the presence of God…God loves to be worshiped – why? Because when we worship Him in song, to refer to a secular phrase, we are making love to God. God wants us to love Him, He wants to be loved, just as we want to be loved, and when we are loving on Him it is an invitation for Him to come down to meet with us.

When God’s presence falls, EVERYONE feels it, saint and sinner alike. God’s presence is NOT subjective, it is objective…meaning that when the pastor gets up to the microphone and says, “Oh, I feel the presence of God in this place,” but I don’t feel it in the second row down…then the pastor is just saying things for his purposes. In other words, the presence of God is not in the church, because if He was, all of us would be feeling His presence. Why are people leaving the church? They are leaving because they come to meet with God but God is never attending the church that they are part of…so they go elsewhere looking for the presence of God.

Why are people leaving the church? They are leaving because they come to meet with God but God is never attending the church that they are part of…

Another reason why people are leaving the church, is because since their pastor was never called by God into the ministry, and because of that they are not qualified to be a pastor of God’s House, they don’t understand spiritual precepts that are needed in order to get the church on higher spiritual ground. What do I mean by that?

The very first thing that needs to be done with a new believer in Christ, is that they need to be discipled in the basic doctrines of Christianity. When they are not discipled (taught the basic doctrines of Christianity), they cannot spread their roots deeper or wider into the Word of God. Knowledge always comes first: you cannot DO what you have not been told that you can or are to do. Part of discipleship is mind renewal in the Scriptures, and if we do not have our minds renewed in the Scriptures, then we cannot walk in the Spirit, we cannot build the faith required in order to have the boldness to pray for people’s healing (or whatever). If we are unable to walk in the Spirit then we cannot put the deeds of the flesh to death, which means that we cannot walk in righteousness or holiness.

Now, for the calvinist, none of these things matter, because calvinism teaches that all you have to do is believe and God takes care of all the rest – and this, for those of you who do not know – is NOT what the Scriptures teach. Scripture teaches us that if we do not practice holiness, then we will not see God, and that Scripture was written to saved believers. Scripture says that if we do not practice righteousness (doing what is right in God’s eyes), then we are not abiding in Christ…and if we are not abiding in Christ, then we do not have eternal life.

All of these things are made a possibility in our lives only by the foundation of renewing our minds…but when the pastor is not teaching his congregation that they need to renew their minds…what kind of church is he ‘guiding?’

People are leaving the church because they are seeking God, but He does not ever show up at the church they are attending. He does not show up because the spiritual leadership of that church doesn’t either know, or they don’t care, about the difference between what is acceptable worship to God, and what is not acceptable to Him. God does not show up because the pastor is not walking with God…and because of this he has no spiritual awareness of what’s going on in his congregation. He can’t minister to the spiritual needs of the people because he himself has no connection with God. And this one is really bad…there are a growing majority of pastors today who are not “saved” by the common definition of the term (which, by the way, is incorrect).

A man who is not walking with God cannot lead a people to God.

From the foundation up, Paul said in I Corinthians chapter three, that those who build upon the foundation of Christ, need to be careful of how they build, because those who don’t know what they are doing will have all their work burned up…and they might be saved IF they themselves begin to abide in Christ before they die. The calvinist twist on this chapter is not valid (used as a crutch for “once saved, always saved” false doctrine in interpreting it as saying that it applies to all people and that whether your works are burned up or not, you will still be saved; the passage only applies to ministers, not the average Christian).

If your current church is dead, lifeless, without the presence of God, then you really need to leave that church and find one that is alive with the presence of God…because if you wait too long, you will become accustomed to that lifeless atmosphere and either come to believe that there is no God, since He isn’t showing up, and leave the church altogether; or you will become the proverbial frog in a cooking pot that doesn’t realize he is being killed slowly from the inside out…

 

 

 

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Do you have questions about the Bible or Christianity in general?

This morning while I was laying in bed, meditating on spiritual things (Rom. 8:5-6), I believe the Spirit directed my mind to this thought: “There are many ‘question and answer sites’ out there, but none that give answers according to a more accurate understanding of Scripture because they do not understand covenant, nor how covenant affects our interpretations of the Scriptures. So you start one.”

As I lay there, thinking about that, I realized that I didn’t think that it came from me, so I whispered, OK.”

So, here’s the deal…if you have a question regarding the Bible or Christianity in general, any question at all, whether in Scriptural or historical contexts, feel free to post that question here and I will begin answering your questions IN FULL. In other words, I will THOROUGHLY research the question and post the answers daily under their own question titles when I have completed the research.

I used to have a lot of questions in my youth when I first began witnessing to people – because those who I spoke with had questions…so I studied the Bible to find those answers, because that’s how we learn. If I can help you learn, especially about Scripture, then all the work necessarily put into the effort is well worth it. What’s more, you will not receive a Calvinistic answer, nor a Reformed Theological answer…nor answers that reflect any denominational stand.

What you will receive is an answer based solidly in Scripture not only according to covenant understanding, but according to a more accurate understanding of the NT Scriptures as they are – New Covenant Scriptures, out of utilization of a complete Biblical Hermeneutic (a complete set of Biblical principles of interpretation). Most out there only utilize a partial hermeneutic – they cannot utilize a whole and complete hermeneutic because some of those principles completely destroy their personal theology, so they either ignore those principles of interpretation when they harm their doctrine, or they throw them out completely.

So! Let the questions fly! The more the merrier!

Blessings!

 

 

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How do we draw close to God?

James 4:8-9

Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded people. Be wretched and mourn and weep, let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy into gloom.

 

  1. The Greek grammar in verse 8 implies that this has to do with a personal relationship.
  1. cleanse your hands, you sinners,” speaks not of our hands, but of what we do with our hands, what we touch, what we participate in. It speaks of consecrating ourselves to God and God alone:

 

II Corinthians 6:17

. . . touch no unclean thing, then I will receive you,

 

This verse speaks more to acceptance by God than it does about drawing closer to Him, but the principle still applies. We need to “touch no unclean thing” in effort to draw closer to Him.

As it has to do with acceptance, God is speaking here and He tells us plainly and clearly that He will not receive us, we will not be accepted or welcomed, if we continue to participate in unclean things.

 

  1. The anarthrous construction in the verse implies that we are to purify ourselves through “obedience to the truth” and loving on others…

 

I Peter 1:22

You have purified your souls in your obedience to the truth, in sincere love out of a pure heart; I exhort you to love one another earnestly,

 

According to Peter, we purify (cleanse) our souls by walking in obedience to the truth. This does not speak of the imputed sanctification/holiness of Christ to our accounts, it speaks directly to the point that God demands holiness from us and that He has arranged things in such a way that we purify and sanctify ourselves by walking in obedience to Him…

 

Hebrews 12:14

Strive for . . . holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.

 

Those who claim that we do not have to walk in obedience to God in order to get saved, may well be correct in that assessment, but to carry that mantra over into maintaining one’s eternal life is to commit spiritual suicide. Unless a person is walking in obedience to God, he is not striving for holiness…and if he is not striving to live a life of holiness, then his claim-to-fame of being saved once in the past will not take him into heaven.

The holiness that Apollos speaks of here is, again, not the imputed holiness/sanctification of Christ to our account, it is the ‘rubber-meets-the-road’ daily application of living out the Word of God. In other words, this holiness is our part, not God’s part.

 

  1. purify your hearts, you double-minded people,” our hearts are not pure when we are double-minded – that is, stop ‘riding the fence’…stop placing one foot in Christ and the other foot in the world (from our perspective). Stop running and fussing over things of the world, and start focusing on the higher, spiritual, godly things.

 

Being double minded means that we have an affinity for (relationship with…sympathy for…interest in…attraction to…a ‘causal connection’ with) both God and something in the world, causing one to mind (think about, take action toward) both spiritual and worldly spheres – divided in mind and attention. In other words, one is trying to be a friend of God and a friend of the world – and doing such makes them an enemy of God…

 

James 4:4

You adulterers! Don’t you understand that friendship with the world is animosity towards God? Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

 

If a person is double minded, it is because they are clinging to something or things that are of the world…a worldly attitude, or the world itself. They might well love God, but they demonstrate that they love the world more than they love Him, and Jesus said that if we do not love Him above and beyond all else then we are not worthy [1] of Him (Mat. 10:37).

The things of God and the Spirit, and the things of the world, are diametrically opposed to one another; so, in effect, when one ‘has a foot’ on both sides of the fence, he is in fact an enemy of God playing the part of the hypocrite. We cannot move closer to God because one leg is over the fence, and God cannot bless a person who is whoring themselves out to the things of the world.

We are to separate ourselves from the world, not make friends with it, not partake of it, or any of its wicked themes, not allow it to influence our lives because that influence leads downward into spiritual darkness and shadow (Rom. 1:18-32).

 

  1. we are to separate ourselves from the world and all of its corrupting influences – particularly people – as that is what the context of II Cor. 6:17 is addressing…

 

II Corinthians 6:14-17

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore, go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you,

 

Paul doesn’t just address not touching the unclean thing here, he addresses the larger picture of separating from sinful people because if we do not, eventually their wickedness will rub off onto us, corrupt our thinking, and cause us to fall or walk away from God. The person who walks in obedience to God really doesn’t have much in common with the person who is in the midst of rebelling against God. Hence, the person of Light has nothing in common with the person of darkness…the believer has nothing substantial in common with the unbeliever – they are actually enemies of one another in spirit, and animosity is generated between them due to that friction.

 

  1. Touching “the unclean thing” is figurative for participating in the sinful, corruptive, things of the world. If you are choosing to look at it, then you are participating in it. If you are doing it, then you are participating in it. You cannot participate in Christ and participate in the world – it is either one or the other in reality…

 

I Corinthians 10:21

You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.

 

Those who think they can participate in worldly things and still keep one foot in Christ, are sadly mistaken, and unless they repent and turn to God whole heartedly, they will end up in eternal flames, regardless of what they believe…regardless of whether they were at one time saved or not. The doctrine of ‘once saved, always saved’ is a false doctrine, not taught in the Bible anywhere.

What am I touching that is sin?

What am I watching/listening to that is sin?

What am I thinking about/imagining that is sin?

What am I saying/doing that is sin?

 

What am I not doing or saying that is sin?

 

  1. what is God saying here? He is saying that if a person wants to draw close to God – indeed, even be accepted by God (eisdechomai = to receive into favor or communion, fellowship, relationship) – one must separate himself from the world, the things and corrupting issues of the world, and the corrupting influences of those who are not saved or not walking with God. In short, this verse speaks much more about being accepted as a child of God, than it does about drawing closer to Him. But it still applies to the latter…

 

  1. Returning to an earlier passage –

 

I Peter 1:22

You have purified your souls in your obedience to the truth, in sincere love out of a pure heart; I exhort you to love one another earnestly,

 

Here Peter echoes Jesus’ words in prayer to the Father…

 

John 17:17

Sanctify them in the Truth; Your Word is Truth.

 

In other words, it is not enough to be a hearer only of the Word of Truth, for hearing only does not purify our souls. We must put the truth of the Word into action in obedience in order for the purifying work to be processed.

Obedience is a two-sided coin: righteousness (obeying God in doing what is right in His eyes) and holiness (obeying God by not doing what He tells you not to do). It is ‘doing good’ and it is ‘not doing what is wickedness.’ It is very important that we understand that this is our part, this is not the imputed righteousness and holiness of Christ to our account – and, indeed, the Scriptures bear witness to the fact that if we are not striving for personal righteousness and holiness, then that which is imputed to us from God will cease.

 

  1. obedience to the truth” is another way of saying “obedience to the Faith” (Rom. 1:5; 16:26), where the word pistis is used as a metonym for the articles and doctrines of the Christian system of faith. In other words, we purify our souls by walking in obedience to what the doctrines of Christianity tells us to do – as well as not doing what they tell us not to do.

 

We do this, according to the next section of the verse, “in sincere love out of a pure heart.” A pure heart (katharos) means a heart that is not only clean and free of worldly contaminates, but also implies that it is pure because we do not have one foot in the world, becoming polluted through friendship and association with the world.

When it comes to where the “rubber meets the road,” we move closer to God through consecration to Him and purifying ourselves through obedience to God and His Word.

Someone might ask the question, “Why would you want to move closer to God?” The answer to that question, I suppose, might be different for each person. For me, I have been close to the Lord in the past and then allowed the devil to work on me and mess that relationship up…and I want it back! I can’t put into words eloquently enough how it feels to be sitting in God’s presence when you are close enough to actually feel Him in your room, or when you are walking and talking with Him and you can feel His presence with you. I crave personal experiences with the Lord like what I used to have, and I recognize that I had them with Him because I had moved close to Him.

I have had experiences with God that others only dream about, and while I am not pushing personal experience to the point of being unbalanced, I do believe that God wants us to get to know Him here, today, where we are. We can only come to know God on a personal level by experiencing Him in intimate, personal ways – when He would choose to interact with us. That’s what it’s all about today, God doesn’t want to wait until we get to heaven to interact with us, He wants to do that today – especially because many of those interactions result in either our personal spiritual growth, or someone’s salvation.

Blessings!

 

     [1] axios (axioV), meaning an estimation of value or worth; used as it is in Mat. 10:37, “worthy of Me,” means that one is not worthy to be a friend of God, or to be cherished by Him or anyone.

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Who is, and who is not, a Christian?

In recent days I have been assaulted with various claims by people who believe themselves to be Christians, who…I might add…are in error in that belief.

“Those are strong words, Dave.”

Yes, they are, because the Scriptures are very black and white…there’s none of this practicing homosexuals can be Christians nonsense in the Scriptures. There’s none of this I can say “f**k” and still be a Christian nonsense. There’s more, but let’s not jump off the top of the building, we need to work our way to the top from the bottom.

Let me start out by reflectively saying that I do not hate anyone, but I do hate. What I hate is what God hates – that means, first and foremost, I hate lies in the form of false ideologies and, in particular, false teachings and false doctrines – whether they be of a religious nature (for example: “once saved, always saved” nonsense doctrine) or of a worldly nature (for example: “evolutionary theory has been demonstrated as a fact” nonsense when the facts to not support the theory like evolutionist’s portray it).

This is why, false ideologies lead to false teachings, and false teachings lead to false doctrines – and false doctrines take people to hell. We are going to examine numerous false ideologies – myths – within people’s minds concerning Christianity and what it means to be a Christian (if you think that I miss something, let me know and we will add it)…because false doctrines have only one purpose, born of demonic origins within the minds of people – to separate people from God. My motivation is two-fold; Scriptural truth for the sake of truth itself, and making the effort to give people that truth so that they can, as Paul says, “examine yourselves to see whether or not you are really in the Faith” (II Cor. 13:5).

Simply because, if you claim to be a Christian, but don’t pass the test of examination, then you are deceiving yourself into thinking that you are OK with God when you really are outside the ark of safety. How do people deceive themselves? James says it quite nicely…

 

James 1:22
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

 

We shall observe just how true his words are as we continue. We need to begin from the beginning, from the foundation, as Paul puts it, there is no “foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” Notice that he didn’t say the gospel, which some erroneous interpret his words here to mean. No, he said that the foundation that was laid was “Jesus Christ” Himself, and there is a reason for this – because we are told in Scripture that Jesus is the “truth” and the “light” and that if we are in Him, we walk in the Light… but if we do not walk in Him, then we walk in darkness, “and the darkness has blinded their eyes” (I John 2:11), meaning that they can’t even see or understand the truth.

Therefore, in order to understand who is and who is not a Christian according to the Scriptures, we first must look at how a person can become a Christian. What do the Scriptures tell us about what a Christian is? We will go by the numbers:

A Christian is someone who has received salvation from the sins of their past sinful lifestyle by receiving Christ as their Savior.

How does one “get saved?” This is perhaps one of the most important questions, and one that satan has fought to twist through false teachings since the Reformation. It is falsely taught all over this country today that one gets saved the moment they come to faith in Christ – but this is not taught anywhere in the Scriptures, it is wholly part of the false doctrines of Calvinism. In order to get saved according to the Scriptures, one must first come to faith in Christ, that is the first “step” if you will…

 

John 3:15-16
15 that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life.
16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.

 

Those versions of the Scriptures that read John 3:16 as “shall not perish” violate numerous grammatical points, and is a gross mistranslation of the Greek text (which you can find detailed in my other posts so I will not detail it here). Jesus says clearly and plainly, that believing does NOT save anyone, it is only one step in the process of decision-making to come to God on His terms. Anyone who tries to come to God on his own terms will wake up one day in eternal flames. God is the sovereign, He makes the rules and we either come to Him on His terms, or we choose the alternative. That is black and white, if that offends you, then so be it.

Jesus says, “may have eternal life” and “should not perish” because faith is only one prerequisite to coming to God…

 

Hebrews 11:6
And without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever would draw near to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.

 

After one comes to saving faith in Christ, he must then count the cost of walking with Christ and choose to repent from his past sinful lifestyle (“saving faith” does not mean that they are saved because they have chosen to believe, it means that there is a difference between living faith, and dead faith, which James explains in his letter – faith that is not made living by walking in obedience to what one claims to believe, is dead faith; and dead faith can’t save anyone – Jam. 2:14-26). God will not forgive and save someone if they do not first repent (choose to turn away) from practicing the sinful things that they used to practice – because there’s no reason to…

 

Matthew 4:17
From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Luke 13:3
No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.

Acts 3:19
Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out,

 

Now, the false doctrines of Calvinism and others, tells people that you don’t have to do anything in order to get saved but believe in Jesus – yet we can clearly see in the above passages that repentance is another prerequisite to receiving God’s forgiveness. Peter, under the direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit in Acts 3:19, clearly gives the indication that unless one repents, even though he may believe in Jesus, he cannot have his sins blotted out. This is also his intended meaning here…

 

Acts 2:38
And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

 

Peter states explicitly that unless one repents, as one of the prerequisites, then he will not be forgiven of his sins – as well as introducing here another prerequisite to receiving salvation, being water baptized into Christ. This point Calvinists and others also chide against because they give ear to doctrines of demons and seducing spirits, as Paul tells us people would do in the last days (I Tim. 4:1). I will assume the reader has never read this before, so I will detail it here because of its great importance. We see that water baptism into Christ is how the Scriptures teach us to be saved, which is in direct contradiction as to what the ignorant and unstable in the Scriptures teach…

 

Acts 18:24-26
24 Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures.
25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John.
26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.

 

Apollos was a man who thought of himself as a Christian…he believed in Christ, he was also competent in the Scriptures, the Spirit tells us. He taught in the synagogue the things concerning Jesus accurately – that is, that Jesus was the Messiah…BUT, there’s that key little phrase that the Spirit had Luke write into the paragraph that upon first glance really doesn’t make much sense. Luke writes that Apollos “knew only the baptism of John,” meaning that Apollos had not yet been baptized into Christ.

“So what?” you might ask. This is where cultural understanding cuts most Americans off from getting the full understanding and grasp of the NT Scriptures…every Redemptive Covenant has a God-given ceremonial rite of entry, EVERY Redemptive Covenant. The New Covenant is a Redemptive Covenant, and no one enters into that covenant unless they enter it by the way that God has decreed. The way of entry into the Old Covenant was circumcision, and the way of entry into the New Covenant, by God’s decree, is water baptism. Period. That is what the Scriptures teach, therefore that is the truth on the matter.

“Where does the Scriptures teach that water baptism is how we enter into Christ? And what does entering into Christ have to do with salvation?” Good questions, I’m glad you asked…

 

Isaiah 42:6
I am the LORD; I have called You in righteousness; I will take You by the hand and keep You; I will give You as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations,

Isaiah 49:8
Thus says the LORD: “In a time of favor I have answered You; in a day of salvation I have helped You; I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people, to establish the land, to apportion the desolate heritages,”

 

Both of these passages are part of Messianic Prophecies (I’ll let you read the whole prophesies on your own if you so wish) where God the Father is speaking to God the Son as the coming Messiah, and is telling Him that He will make Him a living covenant. God is speaking concerning the New Covenant, and He is telling you and I that He has made Jesus Christ the Living embodiment of the New Covenant – Jesus IS the Living New Covenant.

This has dramatic impact upon how we are to read and interpret the NT Scriptures, because as I have stated many times before, the New Testament is NOT a testament at all, it is a covenant – to be precise, it is an Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) Covenant, fashioned after ANE covenants and under the authoritative legal standing of ANE covenant principles of operation. As the living New Covenant, pretty much every word that Jesus ever spoke was covenant stipulation. This also has a direct impact upon our current discussion…

 

Romans 6:3
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?

Galatians 3:27
For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have entered into Christ.

 

No one comes to be “in Christ” simply because they believe in Him, there is only one way to enter into Christ according to the Scriptures, and that is through the God-ordained ceremonial rite of entry of water baptism. This is why Peter said in Acts 2:38 above that one must not only repent in order to have their sins forgiven, but that they must also be water baptized in the name of Jesus, because to be water baptized in Jesus’ name is to be water baptized into Jesus. Christ Himself tells us that water baptism is necessary in order to receive salvation from sin…

 

John 3:5
Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

 

When Jesus uses the phrase, “born of water” he is not referencing physical birth as Calvinism and other false doctrines teach (in which they make the same ridiculous mistake that Nicodemus made and which Jesus chided him for), He was referencing water baptism. This can be clearly observed in light of the other passages on water baptism and entering into Christ when we apply the principles of Biblical interpretation to the study, taking clear passages to illuminate John 3:5 where Jesus speaks in a figurative manner. He says that unless one is baptized – thereby entering into Christ the Living New Covenant – a man cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Why?

Because the Kingdom of God is a covenant kingdom, and no one enters the kingdom of God unless they are in covenant with God. Therefore, no one can receive salvation from their sins and enter into the kingdom of God unless they enter into Christ through water baptism. This is how people get saved today under the auspices of the New Covenant, according to the Scriptures – and not according to the false teachings of men who wish to be teachers of God’s Word who neither know the Scriptures nor God Himself…

 

Jeremiah 2:8
The priests did not say, ‘Where is the LORD?’ Those who handle the law did not know Me; the shepherds transgressed against Me; the prophets prophesied by Baal and went after things that do not profit.

 

In this respect, little has changed since the days of Jeremiah.

In concluding this portion of the discussion, one gets saved by first coming to faith in Christ (because if one does not believe in Christ, then one will not repent or get baptized), then counting the cost of following Christ, called being a disciple of Christ, and then receives water baptism into Christ where salvation is meted out to him (see the earlier post on Salvation and Eternal Life, where we address that salvation from sin is part of the six elements of the atonement in Christ). Salvation is found only “in Christ,” therefore, unless one is abiding in Christ, he does not have salvation – no matter what he believes…

 

2 Timothy 2:10
Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

 

Next…

Some Myths about who and what a Christian is:

 

1.  Some people think that because they got saved 5, 10, 20 years ago, that they are still Christians today.

This plays into the false doctrine of “once saved, always saved” nonsense.

Nope, this is not what the Scriptures teach. The word “Christian” means “Christ-like” or “follower of Christ,” both terms employed in the understanding that a Christian is one who is a disciple of Christ. What is a disciple? The word means one who follows the teaching and lifestyle of another, a prominent teacher or Rabbi, for example. Therefore, a Christian is one who DOES, not one who DID something years ago.

A Christian is one who is following the teachings in their everyday lives which Christ taught, and which the apostles handed down to us in the NT Scriptures. It matters not if you “got saved” 30 years ago if you are not actively following after God today in obedience to Him and His Word…if you make a practice of lying, then you are not a Christian. If you make it a practice to close your heart off from your spouse, withholding your affections for no valid reason, then you are not a Christian. If you practice speeding down the road breaking the speed limit after understanding that the Scriptures tell us to obey the laws of the land, then you are not a Christian.

If you make it a daily practice to say cuss words, then you are not a Christian. If you don’t make it a practice to love on people, helping them when you have the opportunity to do so, then you are not a Christian. If you fail to practice daily putting your flesh upon the cross so that you can walk in the Spirit, then you are not a Christian. If you fail to engage God in personal relationship on an on-going lifestyle, then you are not a Christian. A person is not a Christian because they got saved in the past, a person is a Christian if, and only if, they are currently walking in obedience to God in Christ according to “the way of God” as we observed in Acts 18 above with Apollos.

Harsh words? Jesus said that unless you are willing to give up all that you have or hold dear, all of your passions and dreams, all of your desires and the distractions that you love to participate in, then you cannot be His disciple…

 

Luke 14:27-33
27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.
28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?
29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him,
30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’
31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand?
32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace.
33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has, cannot be My disciple.

 

Why does Jesus say that anyone who does not renounce all that he has, “cannot be My disciple?” It’s because if you let anything come between you and Him, then that distraction will prevent you from being ABLE to follow Him in what He has called us to do. I can’t follow after Christ at the same time that I am playing video games…I can’t follow after Christ at the same time that I am sitting on the couch watching hours of TV or episode after episode of something on Netflix…I can’t follow after Christ at the same time that I am engaging in various species of entertainment. I can’t follow after Christ if I love my wife more than I love the Lord, and spend most of my time trying to please her rather than trying to please Him. She can’t get me into heaven, only I can do that.

 

2.  Some people think that they are Christians simply because they believe in Jesus or God.

Nope, this is one of the biggest lies floating around the church landscape today…”Oh, I believe in God, so I am a Christian.” Sorry, that’s not how it works. You can believe all you want to that you are a car, and go stand in your garage for hours at a time – but you are delusional! I can believe that I can walk through walls or fly, but the facts of reality demonstrate something very different. No one is a Christian simply because they believe in God, and James says that the demon believe in God, but their belief does not give them amnesty from what they have done and continue to do. Again, listen to James’ words…

 

James 1:22
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

 

It reads a little differently in the Greek…”But be obedient to what the Word tells you to do, not just listening to what is said, failing to practice what you hear – because this is how you deceive yourselves.” What does he mean? In order to answer this, we need to look at some other passages…

 

Hebrews 4:12
For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

1 Thessalonians 2:13
And because of this, we also give thanks to God continually, that you received the Word of God that you heard from us and accepted it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the Word of God, which is active in those who consistently believe.

 

The Word of God is living and active in the lives of those who believe and walk in obedience to (practice as a lifestyle) what the Word of God demands from us. It does no good to only listen to what the Word has to say if you do not practice what it tells you to do in obedience to God – because that is what being a Christ follower is all about. To follow Christ you MUST obey what He tells you to do – if you do not walk in obedience to Him, then you are not following Him, and you are NOT a Christian, no matter what you choose to believe.

The Word of God can only work in our lives as we walk in obedience to it, as we practice what God tells us in His Word to do. If we are not putting the Word into action in our lives, then it cannot do what God has sent it into our lives to do. Getting back to the point, no one is saved just because they believe in God, just as no one is a Christian just because they believe in God. That is a doctrine straight from the bowels of hell.

 

3.  I am a Christian because I repeated the sinner’s prayer with the pastor one day, or because I repeated the sinner’s prayer with the guy on TV.

Nope…not really. I do concede that I have spoken to at least one person that said the sinner’s prayer with a TV preacher and seems to have genuinely received salvation out of that experience, but that is a rarity and I can only think that somewhere in the TV preacher’s sermon that he addressed repenting in order to get saved.

“But wait a minute…you said earlier that one must receive water baptism into Christ in order to get saved, now you are backpedaling.”

No, not quite. I had yet to get into all the details of differing scenarios…which we will now address. Some of you earlier got all bent out of shape when I stated that one must be water baptized in order to receive salvation from sin, and instantly – and ignorantly – regurgitated the same nonsense that you have learned from others…”what about the thief on the cross who was accepted by Christ, you are saying that he wasn’t really saved because he didn’t get baptized”…or…”you forgot about Cornelius and his family who was apparently saved by faith and was baptized in the Holy Spirit before they were water baptized, so you are wrong!”

No, I didn’t forget about them, I just waited until now to address the situations. First, God is holy and righteous, He will ALWAYS act in a righteous way. If God did not accept the thief on the cross just because he didn’t have the OPPORTUNITY to receive water baptism, according to His Word, then He would not have been acting in a righteous and upright way on the thief’s account. If one does not have the opportunity to receive water baptism, do you really think that God will not honor such a person’s faith? Again, He would not be righteous if He didn’t. The thief on the cross is reminiscent of death-bed conversions, where people do not have the opportunity to receive water baptism…so what I am saying is that God does not bend the rules, but He makes calculated exceptions where judgment is concerned in receiving people through faith. He is God, that is His prerogative to do so.

As for Cornelius and his family, we must look at the context of what was happening. First, the church, being up to this point strictly Jewish in nature, was refusing to take the gospel to the Gentiles (which is why God chose Paul rather than Matthias, whom we never hear about again after his ‘election’ to be the 12th apostle by Peter – Acts 1:15-26). God had to get the church’s attention, to recall to them the prophesies that the gospel would be made available to all the world, not just the Jews, under the New Covenant. And working through Cornelius was how God chose to do so.

In short, this was a unique incident in the Scriptures – no one ever received salvation outside of faith, repentance, and water baptism into Christ before Cornelius in the Scriptures (aside from the thief on the cross), and no one in the Scriptures received salvation outside of faith, repentance, and water baptism into Christ after Cornelius in the Scriptures. It may indeed have taken place, but it is not recorded. I say that because I personally know about myself receiving salvation without receiving water baptism, as well as others who have also received Christ without having been water baptized.

“Dude, you are so confused…your brain is out in left field.”

No, I just understand covenanting, and most of those reading this blog do not. Again – God will ALWAYS act in accordance with righteousness, that is, in what is RIGHT. Here is the scenario (which you can get in greater detail than what I am going to give here, in the book: The Gospel According to ANE Covenant Understanding click here),  the church of the first century understood covenant because the Middle East was the center of ANE covenanting. Covenants were a part of their daily life, so they understood like we in western civilization do not, all of the “in’s and out’s” of covenanting. Once the church became predominantly Gentile, particularly after the third century and the church spread over Europe and beyond, the knowledge and understanding of ANE covenanting – and that the New Testament is a covenant, NOT a testament – was all but lost to the church.

A little of that knowledge returned to the church after the Reformation, but it was horribly warped and distorted through Reformed ‘Covenant Theology.’ But solid introduction to ANE covenants and how they impact our understanding of the NT Scriptures did not begin in the church again until the late 1800’s – early 1900’s, and have only recently (within the last 20 years) have become widely understood in the Theological community. Sadly, however, for whatever biased reasons, the heads of pretty much every denomination in this country have not seen fit to get this pertinent information into the hands of their pastors and evangelists. One of the primary effects of covenant understanding is that covenant places boundaries upon how we are to interpret the Scriptures, and because we have not had closed boundaries since the Reformation, we have many false teachings in the church today because of it. The boundaries set by the New Covenant rectifies, clarifies, and separates the intended meaning of many passages from the many false interpretations assigned to them.

That being said, those who heard Jesus teach, and those who heard Paul preach, understood perfectly that they were addressing the gospel as the outworking of the New Covenant – and we, for the most part, do not. They understood that in order to get saved one had to be a participant in the covenant that made salvation possible – and because the Reformers didn’t have that understanding, they claimed – in great error – that all you have to go in order to get saved is to believe in Jesus. So, when it comes to today, and the vast majority of people do not understand covenant, nor that they must be in the New Covenant (that is, in Christ) in order to have salvation – being falsely taught that all they have to do is believe in Christ – God had to make a decision…

Was he going to let the lost knowledge of covenanting and how it affects our understanding of the Scriptures keep millions of people out of relationship with Him, or was He going to do the RIGHT thing and accept people based upon what they know, and not what they don’t know? So…people today can get saved if they come to faith in Christ, repent, and ask God to forgive them of their sins and come into their lives, without receiving water baptism into Christ. HOWEVER, when a person hears that the Scriptures do dictate that water baptism is necessary in order for them to enter into Christ and have eternal life, and if that person rejects that information for no other reason than because of their bias, in not seeking the truth of God’s Word but just protecting and defending their bias – that person’s standing with God as having eternal life has now become jeopardized by his unwillingness to heed the truth of God’s Word.

To put it simply,  I would not want to be standing in that man’s shoes when he stands before God on judgment day…because he was shown the truth of God’s word – “the way of God more accurately,” and he refused to listen because of his arrogance and pride in his doctrine defending without truth seeking. I will defend what I know, but only after listening to what the other person has to say (because he may have greater Light on something that I don’t yet have) and then lining it up with what the Scriptures have to say, but I am not a bias-defender above truth-seeking.

 

4.  Practicing homosexuals can be Christians, so stop saying they aren’t.

Wrong…so dead wrong that its almost laughable if it wasn’t so stinking sad. What does the Scriptures say on the subject?

 

 

Leviticus 18:22
You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.

Leviticus 20:13
If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10
9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor those who practice homosexuality,
10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

Romans 1:21-32                                                                                                                 Because although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools…Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves…For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done…Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

 

The Scriptures tell us that practicing homosexuals (which includes lesbians) are not saved, neither can they be while they continue to practice such behavior. Is that any different from practicing lying, stealing, prostitution, murder, child molesting, or any other behavior that God condemns? No, it isn’t, so I am not picking on homosexuals – the facts are the facts.

If you practice lying to people, then you are not a Christian.

If you practice thievery, then you are not a Christian.

If you practice any kind of sin, in any way, shape, or form, then you are not a Christian… this is what the Spirit tells us through John the apostle…

 

1 John 2:4
Whoever says “I know Him” but does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him,

1 John 2:6
whoever says that he abides in Christ will walk in the same way in which He walked.

1 John 3:6-10
6 No one who abides in Christ keeps practicing sin; no one who keeps practicing sin has either seen Him or known Him.
7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous.
8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.
9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on practicing sin because he has been born of God.
10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

 

In I John 2:4 God tells us that those who claim to know God (i.e., claim to be saved) but who do not keep His commandments, is a liar and is not saved and does not know God. In the next verse He says that those who abide in Christ (i.e., have eternal life) are those who practice walking in the way that Christ walked – that is, in righteousness and holiness. In the third passage, the Spirit tells us through John that no one who is abiding in Christ practices sin…any sin…period. Whoever practices righteousness (i.e., doing what is right in God’s eyes, which is the same as saying one who does not practice sin) is righteous, just as Christ is righteous. Whoever practices sin “is of the devil”…those who do not practice righteousness, nor loving on others in their time of need, are not of God – meaning that they are not saved nor do they have eternal life. In short, they are not Christians.

Now there are those out there, in their efforts to justify their sinful behavior before God, who claim that the Christian sins against the homosexual by calling him out on his sin – wrong answer. There is a judgmental way of doing that which IS WRONG…but as Paul says, “Am I now your enemy because I tell you the truth?” You may consider me your enemy because you don’t like what I am saying, but that does not mean that I consider you my enemy. The truth sets people free – lies of satan keep people bound to sin and eventually take them to hell. I do not condemn, that is not my place nor my authority. My authority is in preaching and teaching the truths of the Word of God, once I do so, the hearer has the responsibility to align his beliefs and life with the Word of God, or choose to reject it. Those who reject the Word of God reject God, and in doing so take themselves into a world of hurt and suffering, just as Paul lines out in Romans 1:18-32, which I will not post here, you can look it up for yourself.

 

5.  Homosexuals are born that way, they cannot help the way they feel.

Nope, that is neither true according to the Scriptures, nor according to science. This myth has entered into the church scene because pastors and teachers who are not saved, take the word of gay scientists over and above what the Word of God tells us. We will hit the gay gene myth here in a second, but first lets look and see what God has to say about the lie that He supposedly makes people born homosexuals…

 

Ecclesiastes 7:29
See, this alone I found, that God made man upright, but they have chosen to go their own way.

 

That word for upright is the Hebrew word yasar, meaning straight, just, righteous in God’s eyes, which is why if an infant dies before the age of accountability, it goes straight to heaven because it has not yet come to understand the difference between right and wrong and has purposely chosen to sin. In other words, God makes all people perfect in His eyes from inception; the Scriptures do tell us that we were conceived in sin, but He is not saying that we are sinful from conception, He is saying that the flesh is sinful, not the baby.

God condemns homosexual activity, which we have already observed above, therefore…if God turns around and causes, or allows, people to be born homosexual, then He cannot be just or righteous. That’s like saying that after God made black people, He turns around and condemns them all to hell because they are black, not because of their choices. Sorry, but that is not Scriptural, God does not create some people through pro-creation to be something that He explicitly condemns – what that is, is the twisted minds of people trying to talk their way out of hell-fire while remaining in their chosen sin.

But, let’s be fair…what about people who are homosexuals who genuinely feel and believe that they were born gay (not just saying so in order to bolster their justification when it isn’t true)? Can there be any kind of truth to this scenario? There is truth, but not that people are born gay…let us look at another spiritual conception akin to this one. People who believe in reincarnation because they have vivid memories of their so-called passed lives, are being deceived through the means of possession by what the Bible calls as ‘familiar spirits’ (demons masquerading themselves for the purpose of deception). These people claim to have had these memories of their past lives early on in childhood…the most famous of cases is that of Shirley Maclain, who claims to have been reincarnated now for about 7 times, from (supposedly) a life of an Atlantean before it sank, to an American Indian princess, to prostitutes.

But the Scriptures tell us that reincarnation is a hoax, that it isn’t real…

 

Hebrews 9:27
And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,

 

Reincarnation is from eastern mysticism, but the Scriptures teach that demons masquerading as ‘familiar spirits’ impersonate those whom they have possessed in the past. When people go to seances to speak to someone who has died…they cannot actually speak to the dead, because the dead are either in heaven or in hell, they don’t float around the earth and haunt houses or any of that nonsense. Those spirits which impersonate the dead are familiar spirits – that is, demons who possessed those people and who have all of their memories…and in the case of reincarnation, pass those memories on to those whom they are now possessing, making them believe that they have been reincarnated. Why would demons do that? Because the Word of God says that men die one time, and then wait to be judged in eternity…so if they can make people believe what is in contradiction to Scripture, then they effectively nullify saving faith in that person, and chalk one more soul for hell-fire.

In the same way, some people who genuinely believe they have been born gay, may be possessed from childhood and the demon possessing them gives them those homosexual tendencies. To many this may sound odd, but it really isn’t. The gospels record children being demon possessed in the Scriptures, and we even have modern day reports of child possessions (demons possess children in South America; demon possessed boy glides backwards across floor and walks up the wall). People only choose not to believe that a child could be demon possessed because people don’t want to believe in demons – however, since man dies one time and then goes to either heaven or to hell waiting for judgment, the only spirits left here on earth are demons and angels, and angels don’t deceive people, only demons do. Demons haunt houses, demons possess people, demons make people believe that they have been reincarnated, demons make people believe that they have been abducted by aliens, etc.

“Are you saying that all people who are homosexual are demon possessed? That’s ridiculous!”

Yes, that would be ridiculous, and that is why that’s not what I am saying. Some people who have had such homosexual tendencies since childhood may well be possessed since childhood, but the Scriptures tell us that for the most part (that is, apart from those who are being deceived into believing that they were born gay), the homosexual lifestyle is a chosen lifestyle, from one or another reason. I know a man who was straight until one of his friends asked him to go to a gay bar with him because he didn’t want to go alone – in my book, it would have been a great mistake to go with him, you are just walking into the snakes den. But he went because this guy was his friend.

But, during the course of the night, this guy was raped by a homosexual, and from that very night began having supernatural experiences from demonic sources. He could see the demon, it would manifest itself to him and talk to him. It would tell him that he now belonged to the demon, and that he would do with him whatever he liked. Ever since that night, this guy had strong homosexual urges – so what happened? From all that we have covered from above, and some new information I am about to give you, this poor guy became demon possessed because the guy that raped him was possessed by the same demon. The Scriptures tell us that two people who have sex, as a spiritual principle, become one person – that is, one life lived in two individuals.

This is one reason why God commands that we not have sex until we are married, and that we only have sex with our husband or wife, because we will become one with them when we consummate the marriage relationship. Every time a person has sex with someone, they break that supernatural tie to the one before, which tears one’s soul. So, after a man has had so many sex partners, and his soul has been torn several times, he becomes numb to things…he comes to the place where he doesn’t feel anything for anyone anymore, and it only gets worse and worse. Pretty soon, he (or she) is unable to form any spiritual attachment to anyone, and it only gets worse from there.

So, if a man is possessed by a demon, and he has sex with another person (straight or homosexual, it doesn’t matter, demons aren’t discriminant), he becomes one life with that person because of the spiritual principle, and now the demon possessing him has access to the person he is now one with. What does this have to do with a person who believes he was born homosexual? I am just showing that in many cases – not all cases – demon possession plays a key factor in homosexual activity…in fact, any activity that goes against Scripture. The demon possessed person will not love on you, to the contrary, they make those whom they possess do anything that they can do that is a direct contradiction to what the Scriptures teach.

How would a child get demon possessed? How indeed…how did the children that Jesus cast demons out of get possessed? I can’t answer that, all I can do is show that it is possible today through the activities of their parents when they were infants (or older). If the parents played D&D or played with Ouiji boards, or dabbled in witchcraft (which is on the rise and has been for the last 30 years), then the child in the house was an easy target for possession. Parents do stupid things sometimes that allow demonic activity into their homes…doing drugs, games, sexual perversions, having sex outside of marriage… anything that is strictly forbidden in Scripture, when one participates in it, can lead to demon possession.

I used to work in law enforcement for 25 years, in the county jail in California, and many times we had possessed people coming in that there was no doubt that they were possessed. The courts would label them as crazy and assign them to mental facilities, because the world does not want to believe that demons are real – because if they concede to demons, then the next step is to conceding to the Bible which tells us all about them. Anyway, let’s not get off track…

 

What marks a person as a Christian or not, is not so much what they believe as it is, in the short, what they do. You can believe, but if you do not align your behavior and life according to what God tells you to do – and stop doing what He tells you to stop doing – then you are not a Christian. Remember, the word means Christ-follower, or Christlike…you are not Christlike if you are practicing lying, stealing, being mean to people, using cuss words every paragraph (or worse), etc.

Too many people today in the church are walking the fuzzy road of their own making, and not following Christ according “to the way of God.” Jesus said there are two roads, the broad road which leads to destruction that many, many take…and the narrow road, which few find and walk. Far too many people are choosing to believe what the world says over and above what the Scriptures say. When a person who was at one time “born again” now chooses to believe that they don’t have to do everything that God tells them to do…when they choose to believe that homosexuals are born that way (even when science decries the nonsense that such behavior is directly attributable to genetic factors), even for the sake of their ailing conscience because one of their children chooses to be gay (and I can sympathize, but I would not ever compromise)…then such people are choosing lies over the truth, which takes them right back to Paul’s words in Romans 1:18-32.

When we reject the truth of God’s Word, and choose to accept the lies of the world, then we are, in fact, rejecting the God who spoke and wrote that Word. When we reject the light of the truth, all that remains for such people is the deception of the darkness which now darkens their minds and keeps them blinded from the truth.

You cannot reject truth and expect to hold truth, that is psychotic – yet that is exactly what many today who call themselves Christians, but are not, do.

But being a Christian is far more…one can have faith, repent, enter into Christ through water baptism and gain eternal life…and then never take that eternal life to its purpose…

 

John 17:3
And this is the purpose of eternal life, that they may come to know You personally, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

 

Christ does not give us eternal life as just a “get out of hell free” card, there is a purpose for giving people eternal life, and that is so that we have what we need in order to be able to enter into the presence of God and engage Him in personal relationship. If we fail to engage Him in personal relationship, then we are not Christians – because that is what Christianity is all about. What does engaging God in personal relationship look like? It is spending time with Him in prayer (intercessory) and in quiet time, where you share your soul with Him; and in personal times of worship at home.

Far too many people go to church on Sunday morning, maybe Sunday night, and that is the extent of their “relationship” with God. Sorry, that is not a relationship with God, that is simply being religious or playing church for social reasons. Christianity is all about relationship with God, not about religion…and because of false teachings, many believe that they are in relationship with God just because they got saved, or because they go to church, or because they pray and turn to God whenever they have some great catastrophe happen to them or someone they love. Again, sorry, but that is not a relationship with God…that is using God as your own personal cosmic Santa Claus, and that doesn’t cut it when it comes to eternal life.

In closing, what makes a person a Christian, is this:

A person is a Christian who has been saved from his past sins and is currently walking in a committed, personal relationship with God. He is one who is walking in obedience to God, not practicing lying, stealing, watching dirty movies, cussing, “getting some” whenever they can, practicing homosexual behavior, murdering people, etc. On the other hand, the Christian is the person who practices doing what God tells us to do, in loving on others when we see them in need, whether they are Christians or not. The Christian is one who has an intimate, personal, love relationship with God, who talks to God on a daily basis and makes Him a part of everything in their lives…who worships God at home and doesn’t wait until Sunday to do so. A Christian is a disciple of Christ, studying His word to renew his mind from worldly passions, to Godly passions…the Christian is the one who lives to please God, first and foremost.

People who claim to be Christians, but who spend most of their time doing anything and everything other than spending time in God’s Word, other than spending time with God Himself in prayer, other than making love to God in personal worship, are only kidding themselves. What takes a person from eternal life present, to the consummation of eternal life in heaven, is only that personal relationship with Him. That is what the fullness of the Word of God teaches.

 

What do you think?

Blessings!

 

 

 

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Spiritual Power and walking in the Spirit

SPIRITUAL POWER and Walking in the Spirit

Psalms 105:4
Seek Yahweh and be strengthened; seek His presence continually!

Psalms 28:7
Yahweh is my strength and my shield; in Him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to Him.

In Psalms 105:4 we read the Spirit of God telling us through the writer, that we receive spiritual strength by seeking the presence of God, that when we enter into His presence, we receive such spiritual strength. In Psalm 28:7 we read David through the Spirit telling his audience that Yahweh is the strength of His people (we also read the same thing in other passages throughout Psalms).

Therefore, when we need spiritual strength (that which we need in order to do something spiritual), the only source of that strength is the presence of God – this is why the Spirit tells us to “seek His presence continually.” How do we seek the presence of God? That is, how do we enter into His presence? According to the Scriptures, we enter into the presence of God through praise, worship, and prayer…hence all of the examples and admonitions in the NT to pray continually…

Psalms 95:2
Let us come into His presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to Him with songs of praise!

Psalms 100:2
Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into His presence with singing!

Luke 5:16
But He would withdraw to desolate places and pray.

Luke 6:12
In these days He went out to the mountain to pray, and all night He continued in prayer to God.

Luke 18:1
And He told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.

Acts 1:14
All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and His brothers.

Acts 2:42
And they devoted themselves to . . . prayers.
Acts 6:4
But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

Romans 12:12
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

Colossians 4:2
Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.

I Thessalonians 5:17
pray without ceasing,

234 verses in the Bible addressing prayer by term; 119 verses in the NT alone (just over half). There are:
43 verses in the NT that address “eternal life” by term…
41 verses using the search term “salvation”…
55 verses for the search term “saved”…
53 for the search term “righteous”…

A good portion of Scripture is dedicated to addressing prayer, double that for other terms that we would consider very important subjects in the Bible…there is a reason for that! In Job we read the question…

Job 21:15
What is the Almighty, that we should serve Him? And what profit do we get if we pray to Him?

When we pray we are seeking God – whether on behalf of another/others or on our own behalf. When we pray, those who have been born of God (born of the Spirit of God) enter into the spirit – that is, when we who are His children pray, we enter into His presence. When we enter into His presence, just as Psa. 105:4 states, we receive spiritual strength from Him in order to live the way He wants us to live. In answer to the question above, we receive power to walk in the spirit – to crucify the flesh…to put to death the things of the flesh…to mortify the flesh with its lusts and passions.

Romans 8:5
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.

We receive power from God in order to live a holy, sanctified life; a life of walking in righteousness, filled with the fruit of the Spirit.

Romans 8:13
For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

Walking in the spirit means to live in the spirit. If you spend most of your time in two different places, which one is the one that you live in? It is the one that you spend the majority of your time in – the one that you make into your home, your dwelling place. Therefore, one is living (walking) in the spirit rather than the flesh, when he spends most of his time (and makes his home/dwelling place) in the spirit rather than the flesh. It is only by tapping into God’s power through prayer that one can put to death the deeds of the body (walk in the spirit) and remain abiding in Christ and become His…

Romans 8:1
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 5:24
And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

When we spend adequate time in prayer, we are spending time in the secret place of God:

Psalms 91:1-9
He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High, will abide in the shadow of the Almighty…Because you have made Yahweh your dwelling place – the Most High, who is my refuge –

Most commentators and theologians that I have read agree that “the secret place of the Most High” reads in the original Hebrew as meaning what verse 9 affirms – that the secret place is the Most High, and the only way to enter therein is through prayer.

Those who live in the flesh focus their minds upon worldly, fleshly pursuits; while those who live in the spirit are those who focus their minds upon spiritual pursuits…but what are spiritual pursuits?

Spiritual pursuits are things like striving to walk in holiness and sanctification, striving to walk in righteousness, striving to love on others and to rid themselves of those things within them that are not pleasing in God’s eyes. Spiritual pursuits would also include being a man or woman of prayer and spending every moment that they can in fellowship and communion with God, whether in prayer, worship, or just talking with God.

Other spiritual pursuits include seeking the truth of God’s Word in honest sincerity…seeking to evangelize the lost and to teach others how to walk with God according to His way…making time to praise and worship God, not just letting everything else come before and then complain that you didn’t have the time for “that.”

A spiritual pursuit is anything that either (1) enlarges the Kingdom of God, or (2) builds one up spiritually or (3) builds others up spiritually, or most importantly, (4) brings one closer to God in an intimate personal love relationship with Him.

How does this work?

I am only surmising since I have searched and to date have not discovered any passages that come right out and give us detailed information on the subject, but as near as I can discern, when we enter into God’s presence and remain for a certain amount of time, we become saturated by His presence.

Remember Moses, when he came down from the mountain top after spending 40 days and night in God’s immediate presence? His face glowed from being in God’s presence…just like one of those glow-in-the-dark items you can find in stores. The more time one spends in God’s presence, the more of His presence he becomes saturated by – the more of His power he becomes inundated with.

Psalms 90:8
You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence.

Psalms 4:6
There are many who say, “Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of your face upon us, O LORD!”

Psalms 89:15
Blessed are the people who know the festal shout, who walk, O LORD, in the light of your face,

Isaiah 2:5
O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the LORD.

This is why we are told 119 times in the NT to pray, to pray continually, to constantly be in prayer and in an attitude of prayer. We enter into God’s presence when we are in prayer, and when we stop praying…we leave God’s immediate life-changing presence. The more we want to change, the more we need to spend time in prayer. The more we want to effect the world around us, the more we need to spend time in prayer.

One cannot walk in the spirit if he does not spend adequate time in prayer, receiving from God’s presence the power to do so. One cannot crucify the flesh, put the flesh to death along with its lusts and passions, without spending adequate time in God’s presence in prayer. As Jesus said… “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is not equal to the task” (Mat. 26:41). In other words, the spirit of the man wants to do spiritual things, but the flesh is in opposition to the spirit, just as Paul tells us here…

Galatians 5:16 – 17
But I say, walk in the spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Because the flesh wars against the spirit, and fights against the spirit in order to keep you from doing the spiritual things that you want to do.

In prayer we enter into the spirit, we enter into God’s presence and receive power so that we can, among other things, walk away from temptation – which is why Jesus told His disciples, “Watch and pray, so that you may not enter into temptation…” (Mat. 26:41).

When temptation comes against us, if we would only discipline ourselves to turn away from it and begin to pray immediately, then we would not be so prone to enter into that temptation and partake of it. Temptation always has something to do with the flesh, and when we enter into the spirit through prayer – entering into God’s very presence in the spirit – we receive power to walk away from that temptation, effectively putting the deeds of the flesh to death.

The more time in prayer that we put under our belt, the stronger we become in spirit, just like the longer you hold a glow-in-the-dark product near a light source, the longer and brighter it will glow. But also just like that product, we need to spend time with God in His presence on a continual basis, otherwise that power diminishes. Just like a pale with a small hole in the bottom, we need to continually fill our tanks because it dissipates with time…we need to continually fill up on God’s presence and power in order to keep from losing so much of Him that we no longer have the power to do anything spiritual.

This is what the Scripture shows by using the term “full of the Spirit” in the following passage…

Acts 6:5
And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch.

One point that we need to see here, is that Stephen was not an apostle (because some today think that only apostles had certain powers granted to them by God, and that normal people don’t have such abilities), he was just an ordinary believer like you and I, only he apparently spent a lot of time in prayer. He was full of the Spirit, full of faith, and he went around doing miracles because of it…

Acts 6:8
And Stephen, full of loving-kindness and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.

Through prayer – entering into God’s presence for power – we can rid ourselves of things that can only be accomplished through prayer…

Mark 9:29
And He said to them, “It is only by praying that you can have power to cause this kind to go out.”

Granted, here Jesus was specifically addressing a situation which involved a demon, yet we do not observe anywhere in the Scriptures where men spent a lot of time in prayer in order to cast demons out of someone. In every case where we do observe this event (accomplished by men), such as Paul, the demon is cast out with a single command and the demon obeys and departs from their victim.

Therefore, I think it reasonable to assume that Jesus here meant not just the possibility of a person so demon possessed that the believer getting ready to cast it out must be “prayed up” and full of God’s power and Spirit to do the job, but that Jesus may have also been indirectly touching upon other issues within people’s lives – especially after taking into consideration the information which we have already examined. Without spending time in prayer, we have not the spiritual power to even punch our way out of a wet paper bag…

The main point herein, is that we receive power from God to live and walk in the spirit, by spending adequate time with Him – in His presence – through prayer. The more we pray, the more time we spend in God’s presence through prayer, the more power we have in order to perform spiritually…the more spiritual power we have enabling us to seek after spiritual pursuits.
A person cannot walk in the spirit without spending time in prayer. A person cannot put to death the deeds of the flesh without spending time in prayer. A person cannot crucify his flesh unless he spends time in prayer. Therefore, a person cannot remain abiding in Christ – wherein dwells eternal life – unless he spends adequate time in prayer on a continual basis.

People under the auspices of false teachings will not like to hear that, because they are taught that they are in Christ simply because they believe in Him – but that is not what the Scriptures teach us. God, through Christ, has made the way…but we are the ones who must walk in that way, God does not cause Christ to walk in that way for us.

Saved does not mean “heaven bound,” it means that our past sins have been dealt with so that we can enter into the spirit, into God’s presence, for relationship…which involves prayer. If we do not spend quality time with God in prayer, then we do not have a relationship with God – it is as simple as that.

If one does not spend time with God in prayer on a continuous basis, then not only does he not have a relationship with God, but he will never make it to the consummation of eternal life in heaven. God has given us the key and expects those who really desire Him to use that key…God gives no one a free ticket to heaven, if He did then He would be defeating the very purpose for creating mankind in the first place.

That purpose was for intimate, personal, love relationship…God does not get that from us by giving us a free ticket to heaven. The way has been paved, but no one walks down that path on anyone else’s legs…you have to use your own legs and your own effort, strengthened by spending time with God in prayer.

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