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January 31, 2016, 10:25 PM

A Matter of the Heart - Eternal Salvation



One topic that people find hard to swallow is eternal salvation that cannot be lost. And honestly, hearing that God forgives future sins before they’ve happened and will still allow you to live with Him forever either after or WHILE you’re being unfaithful doesn’t seem right or even possible in our earthly judgmental minds. Hearing radical phrases such as, “even if he cheats on his spouse” or “even if she murders her child via psychosis, she will continue to be covered by Jesus’s blood" sounds very wrong and even blasphemous. We try to build arguments to explain why that wouldn’t happen: that if a person committed those sins or fell away from God for whatever amount of time, it only can be explained that they likely were never really saved, which sometimes is the case but not always. But it’s just that illogical nature of His promise for unconditional sealed salvation that makes it so special and is the only way any of us will make it to Heaven.

We tend to look at sins in degrees and downplay our own sins that we have grown to think aren’t that terrible. But whether you have the inward thought that you would rather keep your tithe this month for something more urgent or if you’re justly bitter or unforgiving inside towards someone without saying a word, God sees the motives of your heart. Every time we don’t trust Him with the little details of our lives and every time we have selfish thoughts, it is falling short of God’s standard of perfection. Isaiah 64:6 says it perfectly about when we’re left to our own efforts: “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags…like the wind our sins sweep us away.” To meet His standard of holiness (The Ten Commandments), the stipulations of the covenant had to change. And it couldn’t be conditional on us or that’s being set up to fail! Left up to our own will power and trusting ourselves to be able to make the right choices daily (even with the presence of His Spirit) is impossible, because even after salvation, we have free will. To make this article as concise as I can, I wanted to address only one passage that people use to say that a person’s salvation can be lost.

Hebrews 6:4-6 says, “It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.” It has been hard for me to explain this one away when brought into a conversation. I was trying to reason out some excuses, that it must not be talking about what it sounds like. I thought initially: a person can “taste” God’s goodness in life without entering a relationship with Him. It must be talking about a person that had opportunities to be saved and turned away. But then there’s the problem of: so if you deny God’s proposal of salvation, you can’t get another chance, because it says “it is impossible….to be brought back to repentance.” And let’s say it is talking about one who is sincerely saved and walks away from God, this would then mean you only get one chance, because “it is impossible….to be brought back to repentance.” The number one rule to interpreting scripture is: CONTEXT, CONTEXT, CONTEXT. So I read the passages surrounding this scripture.

In Hebrews 4, it begins with Jesus being our great high priest and since He is our priest, we can hold firmly to our faith (v14). Also God empathizes with our weaknesses, since he was an earthly man himself and was tempted “in every way” that we have been (v15), so we can approach Him with CONFIDENCE and receive His mercy and grace when we are in need (v16). Then chapter 5 begins by defining what a high priest does: (v1) “Every high priest is selected among the people and is appointed to represent the people in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. (v2) He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness.” Even though this is talking about the high priests before Jesus, he also fits perfectly, because He was from among us, he was a man with us, subjected to temptation with us. Then at the end of chapter 5, Paul scolds them for not being more mature. He said they should be eating solid spiritual food instead of spiritual milk, the elementary truths (v11-14). Now we’re getting closer to our problem scripture. Chapter 6 begins with Paul telling them to move beyond their elementary teachings about Christ, one specifically about repentance from actions that lead to death. This makes me speculate that because of their immaturity, they were continuing to seek forgiveness through ritualistic repentance when they failed as was their habit before Christ - to make religious sacrifices for sin routinely. They had the repentance part down, but they may have been stuck in a cycle of repetative repentance without understanding what new repentance meant and growing in maturity. So Paul explains in 6:4-6, “It is impossible for those” [who have known God and fallen away into a sin again] “to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.” In other words, once you’ve been forgiven and made righteous through Jesus’s sacrifice, you can’t become re-saved. You can’t do it over again. The act of doing so for the sake of salvation is like asking Jesus to sacrifice himself again for your new sins or ask for a little more blood to cover this week’s sins. It makes a mockery of the sacrifice he already made that covered all prior and future sins of all mankind!

The next couple of verses right after this says, “Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God (v7). But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned (v8).” It almost sounds like if you’re not living right, your destiny will be hell. But these scriptures are talking about the fruit of your life on earth, not where you will end up in the afterlife. Paul is explaining the profitable-ness of living for God and the blessings that will be missed if you do not. Despite your salvation status, there are still earthly consequences for your actions and there is still a relationship with God to be nurtured to receive all He wants to give you and do through you for His Kingdom.

In verse 9, Paul says, “Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are convinced of better things in your case, with your salvation… (v11) we want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. (v12) We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised” (like Abraham who is mentioned in a minute). In other words, we want you to press on in faith instead of being lazy (or continuing in a cycle of immaturity) so that you can fully realize (or experience) the promise and blessings of God. You have a choice about how you experience God from your point of salvation to death. You can fall lazy and stay immature or press on into maturity and experience a life of “faith and patience” and inherit his promise through a profitable and joyful journey. He explains the meaning of patience in the following verses and how when God makes a promise, it is not conditional.

Verse 13 says, “When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, (v14) saying, ‘I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.’ (v15) And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised. (v16) People swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. (v17) Because God wanted to make the UNCHANGING nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. (v18) God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be encouraged. (v19) We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, (v20) where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”

This previous excerpt seems to explain itself. But to add a point, when God made Abraham a promise about his descendants, if you remember, Abraham DID grow impatient with God and took matters into his own hands by sleeping with a handmaid for an heir. He disobeyed God and sinned, but it didn’t affect the result of the promise. It wasn’t conditional on Abraham’s behavior or it would’ve been broken. But God kept his promise to Abraham and gave him Isaac. This is the same unconditional nature of the covenant of salvation God has with us. And it is only possible through Jesus being our high priest that enters into God’s presence on our behalf to be the sacrifice. Because of Christ’s shed blood, God looks at us as righteous. He sees His son’s sacrificial blood over our sins, and it is His only way of being able to dwell inside of us as the Holy Spirit. Christ made us righteous in God’s eyes so that we can experience Him as an inward Helper and Comforter and Convicter. He can walk with us and speak to us and help us live the life we were called to live. But the Holy Spirit could not enter into our hearts if not for the blood! Nothing of us is good enough aside from Christ’s blood! Even our best humanly performance is “as filthy rags.”

Jump down to Hebrews 7:11, “If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood – and indeed the law given to the people established that priesthood – why was there still need for another priest to come? (v18) The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (v19) [for the law made nothing perfect], and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.” Well that is good to hear!! This hope is not dependent on following laws anymore if we accept Christ as our savior. There would be no need to make the contrast that the law didn’t help if we still needed to obey it for salvation. If God still required obeying the law to be saved, just with an added Holy Spirit to assist us in minding the law, it would’ve said so. But it says it was USELESS. Did the law have a purpose at its time? Yes, to show us God’s perfection that we could never match. Can we still use it to understand God and what he wants for us? Yes. Will following it alone save us? No.

Hebrews 7:25 is also encouraging: “Therefore he (Jesus) is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” If the rest of the surrounding scripture didn’t explain eternal salvation, that one should have!!! He will always intercede for me. Maintaining salvation is one thing I can’t screw up, because He promises to intercede for me. “Always.” “Completely.”

Verse 27 says, “Unlike the other high priests, he (Jesus) does not need to offer sacrifices day after day… He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.” So when you have that bitter unforgiving thought next week, you can tell God you are sorry for it and ask for Him to remove it, but it’s already been forgiven. He doesn’t need to make another sacrifice because this is a “new” sin brought to His attention. You’ve been bought by the blood! You are covered. REJOICE IN THAT!!! It’s a surreal freeing truth to wrap your mind around and is totally undeserved. Our God is so good. So so good.  



Comments

03-14-2016 at 12:50 AM
Jim Schmidt
Proud father of a great daughter! Bearing down on important Bible doctrines will edify other Christians, and also keeps the messengers' heart fine tuned.
02-13-2016 at 1:10 PM
Karen Schmidt
So glad you wrote about this precious promise. How sad to go through life not believing God is true to His Word. There is so much joy knowing The Heavenly Father keeps us secure in His Mighty Hand. Thank you Jesus for the cross, thank you Holy Spirit for your presence in my life.
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