Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wednesday, February 20th

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Leviticus 11-12, Psalm 37, Mark 9
Today's scripture focus is 1 John 3:19

By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him

MacArthur's accompanying sermons - The Essential Foundation of Christian Assurance and Why Christians Lack Assurance

MacArthur actually summed it up very succinctly in his commentary...
A lifestyle of love in action is the demonstrable proof of salvation.

But let's back up just a bit.

Do you ever doubt your salvation?  I know I have.  In fact, that may even be an indicator of faith!  That sounds odd, doesn't it?  Doubt indicating faith?

MacArthur explains....
Doubts and fears are related to God's glory and honor and righteousness and holiness and our dread of His judgment and our fear of His punishment. We are weak and we know it. We are imperfect and we know it. We openly acknowledge it. And God is perfect and holy and omniscient and nothing escapes Him. And that is intimidating. Yet in that very presence of God we can have assurance of our eternal glory, being calm and confident that we are of the truth, people of the truth.

Doubting our salvation is normal.

There are many people who have assurance who don't deserve it. In fact, it's been my experience that the people who battle with assurance, the people who struggle with it, who get depressed, who have fears and doubts and worries are almost always Christians because non-Christians, they don't have the battle. They claim, "Well, I'm going to heaven, God would never turn me out of His heaven, I'm a good person." Or, "Lord, Lord, we did this, we did that, we did the other thing in Your name. Here we are." You know, people...people who battle with this...inevitably are Christians and the battle comes because they're standing before God and they see His glory and His holiness and His righteousness and they're looking at themselves and they're feeling weak and unworthy and it's in the throes of that that they see in their life that fall short of the standard that intimidates them that makes them say with Isaiah, "Woe is me, I am undone, I'm a man of unclean lips."
So it's...I don't know that I've met very many people...I can't remember any who were having this struggle and were actually non-Christians. This is a struggle in the heart of a believer very often. And God does not want it to be that way.

So yes, doubting our salvation can actually be pretty strong evidence of it's authenticity.

But backing up even further.

Is salvation forever?

Once saved, always saved?

Really, when it boils down to it, what we're asking is, is eternal life eternal?  Well, when you put it that way, it seems a bit ridiculous!  Of course, eternal life is eternal!

John 5:24  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.

Yes, eternal life is eternal.

John 6:35-40 35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 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. 40 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.”
From the point of believing all the way to the point of being raised - nobody is lost.

Salvation is forever. Once you are genuinely saved, you are saved for eternity.

I didn't always believe that.  In fact, until pretty recently I didn't.

MacArthur explains the 3 options...

If you go back and look at the history of theology, there have been really two alternatives in this discussion. There is the reformed alternative, as we typically identify it, and it kind of goes like this. The Reformed view presents the permanent nature of regeneration manifest in the reality of experience. The permanent nature of regeneration manifest in the reality of experience. In other words, you're saved, you're saved permanently and it shows up in your life.
The other view is the Arminian view, sometimes called the Wesleyan view. This is the view that affirms the temporary nature of regeneration, temporarily manifest in experience. So you have the permanent nature of regeneration, permanently manifest in experience, that's Calvinism or Reformed Theology. You have the temporary nature of regeneration manifest in temporary experience, that's the Arminian Wesleyan view that essentially says salvation is not forever, you can lose it, you're likely to lose it and therefore losing your salvation you would lose the ability to do good works and so the whole thing would disappear. And those were basically the options through history. You either believed in a permanent salvation that had permanent manifestation, or a temporary salvation that had temporary manifestation.
But today we have a third view that has come on the scene and we could call it the permanent nature of regeneration and the temporary nature of experience. That is to say you can be permanently saved but only temporarily manifest the evidence of it. This is what the No Lordship people teach, that you can be a believing unbeliever, that you can deny the faith, reject Christ, live in absolute outright sin, have no desire for holiness and still be a Christian. That really doesn't find any kind of wide adherence in the history of theology. But this is what we're dealing with today. The idea that once you're saved you're saved permanently, although there may be only a temporary manifestation, if any at all, in terms of your works. Well no self-respecting Calvinist would accept that and neither would any self-respecting Arminian accept that. The Calvinist would reject the idea that you could be permanently saved, and only temporarily manifest that salvation. And the Arminian would reject the fact that you could be permanently saved all together. The Calvinist would say you could be permanently saved but not temporarily manifest it. The Arminian would say you couldn't be permanently saved at all, that would be temporary, therefore you could manifest it only as long as salvation lasted.
But we have this new and bizarre idea that if you go through some motions at a service or pray a prayer, decide for Christ, or do whatever you're asked to do and affirm some belief in Jesus, you can have permanent salvation and it may or may not manifest itself in any kind of righteous works, any kind of holy affections not only in the moment but lifelong. The Bible says if you're justified, you're going to manifest that you've also become involved in a process the Bible calls being sanctified. Those who are justified are sanctified. So where you come to Christ genuinely, you're given a new nature, transformed, new birth, new creation, regeneration, you have ongoing manifestation of that new life.

I think the 3rd view is a wishful thinking view.  It's what I used to use to placate myself with in regards to loved ones in my life that claim Christ but whose lives don't reflect that reality.  I would think - well, they've accept Christ as their Saviour, just not as their Lord.  Or they're not "victorious Christians".  But option 3 is really not an option.  It's not possible.

I really have become convinced that Calvinism is correct here.  Once you are genuinely saved, you are saved forever.

So, then the question is, how do you know if you are genuinely saved?

The answer is in what John's been discussing throughout the entire epistle.  We know who Christ is, we  hate sin, and we love God and each other.

By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him

Tomorrow's scripture focus: 1 John 3:19-24
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Leviticus 13-14, Psalm 38, Mark 10


Curly-T said...

As one who has grown up in a Nazarene household (Wesleyan theology), I'm totally confused by MacArthur's view on Armenian theology, or maybe just his incompleteness of it.
After hearing Wesleyan theology preached my whole life, and taking several classes on it in college, there is so much more than "You can lose your salvation, it isn't forever."
You can be TRULY saved, TRULY ready for heaven. But you are also human. You can sin, you can turn your back on God. You can lose your savlation. But that doesn't mean you can't ever get it back! It doesn't mean you weren't ever saved in the first place!
Maybe this is why I have so many problems reading through MacArthur's series. They seem incomplete with what I have learned, what I've been taught, and yes, what I've experienced in my walk with Christ.

I've turned away from God in my walk with Him. But He never turned from me. And He was waiting with open arms when I realized my mistakes, my guilt, my sin, and my problems, and He graciously forgave them all.

TammyIsBlessed said...

I think that's the first time I've heard MacArthur accused of being anything less than thorough! The guy can preach for an hour on one verse! ;) LOL

Though in this particular case,I believe he was oversimplifying to make his point quickly. But the end result is still the same - that Armenians think you can be truly saved and then you can reject or lose your salvation. I used to think this. I'm still not 100% confident, but I am leaning towards the "once genuinely saved, always saved" philosophy, but that statement also is oversimplified and incomplete in and of itself.

There is a difference too between doubting God or even turning away from Him for a time - and losing your salvation. I think a Christian can doubt, can turn away for a time, can backslide - but I don't think a genuine Christian could literally reject Christ and therefore forfeit their salvation. I don't think it would be possible. I think that if they reject Christ, it shows their faith to not have been genuine in the first place - like the parable of the farmer sowing the wheat.

If eternal life is really eternal, and if our eternal life begins the moments we are saved, then how could we possibly lose that eternal life?

I'm certainly not claiming full knowledge on this, I'm still trying to work it out in my own head, especially since it is different than what I've always thought.

TammyIsBlessed said...

I liked this illustration by Mark Driscroll (only 5 mins)

Curly-T said...

It will always be something we contend with.
I mean, when I spoke the words "There is no God" I geniunely meant it. But I went to bed that night crying out in desperation to ANYTHING to help me!
I wrote a blog about it a few weeks ago, in fact, as a sort of response to a conversation my brother and I were having over helping those who don't believe there is a God. (here, if you're interested:

I think any quick tag we give something is going to be incomplete - it's impossible to narrow down theology to one or two words.

What's great though is that we CAN narrow Christ down to one word : LOVE.

Love covers it all.