Is Salvation Safe?
Burnell D. Johnson
When the Probate Judge of Lapeer County, Michigan put the pointed question to me, and then to my lady friend, "Do you solemnly promise in the presence of God," etc., "till death does you part," some of my folks might have had good reason to disfellowship us for making such rash promises, as the Bible plainly says, "Thou shalt not forswear thyself," and none can forsee what might happen to destroy our mutual love. In that case, one of two things must happen: We would have an earthly hell, "padlock" instead of wedlock, or break our vows, with worse results. I well knew that some do break such vows, but I had long believed that in all such cases, God had not joined them. (Matt. 19:6) A legion of angels could not have persuaded us that our union was not ratified in heaven, so we took the vows without a tremor, or twinge of conscience, and are sure that there was nothing rash about it. We have what is to us very satisfactory evidence that our heavenly Father has crowned that union with distinct marks of his blessing and approval. Folks may think of us what they will or may! We freely confess that we are far from deserving the rich blessings we enjoy today, which are, first and above all, the definite assurance of God's presence and favor, through grace alone, and sweet Christian fellowship with our children, and others that positively bear the blessed "fruit" of the Holy Spirit. (Gal. 5:22-23)
There is a love, which for permanence and reliability infinitely exceeds all natural love. Its length, and breadth, and height, and depth have not been measured. (Eph. 3:18-19) As to durability, it "NEVER FAILS." (1 Cor. 13:8) It has been said that if all the oceans were ink, and the blue sky a sheet of paper, and both were used to the last drop of ink, and the last inch of space to portray this love, the task would not even have been begun. Whoever has it not, knoweth not God, and has I never been born again. (Jn. 8:42, 1 Pet. 2:7, 1 Jn. 4:7, and 5:4.)
To those who have it, All things work together for good," and nothing in heaven, earth or hell can ever separate them from it. (Rom. 8:28-39.)
The Lord Jesus prayed for His disciples and for all who "shall believe on Me" that "the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me, may be in them, and I in them." Every prayer of our Divine "Intercessor" is heard and answered. Jn. 11:42) Therefore, every true believer has the same love as that which unites the Father and the Son.
This marvelous love has inspired millions to joyfully sacrifice ease, reputation, and life itself, and count it their highest privilege.
Bible Warnings Not "Scare Crows"
Some folks tell us that we may have a real experience of this same love, and and later exchange it for the pleasures of sin, and worldly treasures.
The Bible warns,"Beware, lest ye, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness." Because iniquity shall abound the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. "Whose house are we if we hold fast the beginning of our confidences, and the rejoicing of the hope, firm unto the end."
These warning of spiritual peril, and a thousand more, are not scare-crows. They are bona-fide, sober realities!
Counterfeit Believers Unsafe
First there is danger of being deceived I with a false hope, a counterfeit salvation! Surely millions are thus deceived, only to discover their awful plight "in that day," as they hear their sentence, "Depart . . I never knew you!" (Not one of them is an ex-saint!) They are without excuse. The Word tells plainly how and why they were deceived. (2 Thess. 2:10-12.) "Because they received not the love of the truth," they preferred a pleasant lie, to unpleasant truth, so they "heaped to themselves teachers, having itching ears," and listened to their sweet, pious fables.
Disobedient Children Are Still Children
Second, there is danger that saints act in a manner that will dishonour Christ, lose rewards, and incur rebuke, and chastisement by careless, or inconsistent walk as they behave like "children of disobedience." (Eph. 2:2-3, 4:17-32, 5:6, Col. 3:1-7, etc.) The saints at Corinth were fully recognized, and commended as saints, a "living epistle, known and read of all men," and at the same time rebuked for glaring misbehavior, and sin. This proved that they were still as "babes in Christ," not grown, as they should have been. ( 1 Cor. 1:1-13, 3:1-9; Eph. 4:11-16) Not a hint in either epistle that they had again become children of the Devil.
There is abundant Scripture to show that persistent, wilfull wickedness proves that one is not born of God, and therefore is not His child; but no scripture reference to the new birth, and consequent membership in God's family remotely suggests that this spiritual relationship is any more dependent upon behaviour, or is more flexible, temporary, or occasional, than is earthly family relationship.
Not a Spasm of Religious Emotion
The greatest of all miracles is the miracle of REGENERATION! It is not a transitory spasm of blind religious emotion! To be "born of the Spirit" is to pass from death unto life; from darkness to light, from bondage to liberty, "from the power of Satan to God." A "Multitude so vast, that no man could number, out of every nation, tongue and people, will have passed through "great tribulation," and have joyfully and triumphantly endured for no reason except their love for Him whose blood had redeemed and cleansed them! These are living demonstrations of what the NEW BIRTH is and what it actually accomplishes!
Now some folks insist that it is possible to be born of God, without any such results. You may have the same new birth, and be a real child of God, till you are subjected to a real test; 'persecution because of the Word;" "cares of this life, and deceitfulness of riches," etc. and your love for Him is not sufficiently strong to overcome the world's allurements, so you renounce Him, and "wallow in the mire" like other swine, they say.
Does the Bible plainly explain the matter?
God will have a tried people. The Refiner's fire consumes dross, but brightens Gold!
The "Warnings" Are Effective Tests
There are scripture passages, that are made to teach that God's new-born child may apostatize, become Satan's child; then be born again and again, etc. Such use of these texts puts them in flat contradiction with many clear and positive statements to the contrary.
"Whosoever is born of God, doth not commit sin; FOR HIS SEED REMAINETH IN HIM; AND HE CANNOT SIN, BECAUSE HE IS BORN OF GOD." (I Jn. 3:9)
"WHATSOEVER IS BORN OF GOD OVERCOMETH THE WORLD' and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." (I Jn. 5:4)
"Whosoever abideth in Him sinneth not: WHOSOEVER SINNETH HATH NOT SEEN HIM NEITHER KNOWN HIM." (I Jn. 3:6)
"They went out from us, but they were not of us; if they had been of us, they would have continued with us," etc. (I Jn. 2:19)
Read the connection of these Bible warnings. and note the reason given in each case for ultimate spiritual disaster.
Who is this that "began to build, and was not able to finish?" (Luke 14: 28-30) THEY DIDN'T "COUNT THE COST!"
Who is it that "When they hear, receive the word with joy" and "for a while believe, and in time of tempation fall away?" "No root!" (Luke 8:13)
Who is it that is choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and brings no fruit to perfection? (Luke 8:14)
Who is it that "received the Word with gladness; have no root in themselves, endure but for a time; afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the Word's sake, immediately they are offended?" (Mark 4: 16-17)
Who is this who sits at the table as a guest, at the marriage of the King's son, clad in his own Sunday best, but "without the wedding garment?"
Who are the five "foolish virgins" who had lamps, but NO OIL?
Who are the "many" whose "love waxes cold" because iniquity abounds?
Who are these who have "crept in unawares," ungodly men. turning the grace of God into lasciviousness?"
Oh, THERE IS DANGER! DANGER!! DANGER!!! of being deceived with a "believing" that is short of real heart surrender!
Not one of God's faithful watchmen will fail to sound the alarm, to "Cry aloud and spare not." To use that faithful Word that penetrates every heart, tears off every disguise, and compels the assent of every conscience!
Promises And Warnings Harmonize
Who are the "spots in your feasts of when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear; clouds without water, carried about with winds, trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever?" (Jude.) Compare this awful picture with Psalm 1:3, and Jer. 17:8, etc.
Who is the "'double minded man?" He is "unstable in all his ways." Why so? Because he is "double minded!" He is not built, on the Rock. He is "like a wave of the sea, driven of the wind and tossed." He has received nothing from the Lord. (Jas. 1: 5-8) He is the one of whom Peter speaks: (2 Pet. 2:14) "Unstable" because "double minded;" therefore they are easy victims of false prophets, who "allure through the lusts of the flesh, those that were clean" (margin "for a while," same as Luke 8:13) "escaped from them who live in error. . . . For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein and overcome, the latter end is Worse than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, "The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire." If these "temporary Christians" were truly regenerated souls then the stony ground hearer" with "no root" who did not receive the word "into a good and honest heart" was truly regenerated, and a sick dog, and a "washed sow" truly represents a new born Child of God; or one of Christ's sheep.
"Among the chief rulers; many believed on Him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God." Were they not "DOUBLE MINDED" believers? (Jn. 12: 42-43)
Elymas "believed" but he was "double minded." It was Christ and Dollars! (Acts 8:13) He was still "in the gall of bitterness, and bond of iniquity!" "As He spake these words, many believed on Him. Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on Him, "if ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed, and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." These words offended them, and proved that they were not "His disciples INDEED." Continuance did not make them true disciples, but proved whether they were. His words can mean nothing else but that if they did not continue, it would prove they were not true disciples.
Scriptures are plentiful that speak of superficial and temporary "Christians" but such are abundantly shown to be not genuine, when tested.
Heb. 3: 6-15 traces all apostasy to wrong hearts. "But Christ, as a Son over His own house, whose house ARE WE, IF WE HOLD FAST THE BEGINNING OF the hope, firm unto the end." Then he quotes Fs. 95: 7-11 "It is a people THAT DO ALWAYS ERR IN THEIR HEARTS, AND THEY HAVE NOT KNOWN MY WAYS." Who is this among the saints who is liable to have "an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the Living God?" It is those who, like Judas and Simon Magus, were counted among saints, till they proved that they had wrong hearts! Of all such, God says: "They do always err in their hearts and they have not known My ways."
Gold Fears No Fire
But some, stubbornly determined to maintain the opinion that pure Gold, when put through the fire is in danger of becoming dross, and wheat when fanned may become chaff are willing to reject living saints, and repudiate the host of the martyrs of Jesus, and "the brightest lights" of the Church, for no other reason, but that these refused to accept such opinions!
The names that have been precious to me from childhood, Baxter, Edwards, Luther, Calvin, the Wesleys, Whitfield, Bunyan, etc., I must now believe were only dangerous men, (Wesley, because he fully fellowshipped Whitfield) for believing and teaching that none of Christ's sheep shall perish. (in. 10: 26-29) Did these men keep back the WARNINGS? No! a thousand times no! Every one of them suffered like their Master, for this very reason! Were they ignorant of the Scriptures? They all were imperfect in knowledge of many details of truth. (So are you and I). Hence they differed from each other, and from us on some points. But their self-sacrificing devotion to Christ, and their fidelity to the light they had, proved them to be monuments of grace. John Bunyan needs no defense from me! I never heard of a real Christian who questioned his fidelity to God or the marvelous accuracy of his pictures of true and false Christianity in "Pilgrim's Progress" written while he victoriously endured twelve years in jail for the truth's sake.
If we base our recognition of saints, either of the past or present, on their perfection, either in knowledge of the truth, or in behaviour, we cannot honestly recognize anybody! Not even ourselves!
Perhaps we've said: "If they walked in the light they had," etc.. . Which of us has always walked in all the light we've had? "With what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged!" Christians are admonished to walk "as children of light." Surely we need this admonition! Why so walk? To make us Christians? How stupid to ask a "child of disobedience" to walk as a Child of Light! Dial folks can't walk! "Lie not one to another, SEEING YE HATE PUT OFF THE OLD MAN WITH HIS DEEDS, and HAVE PUT ON THE NEW MAN." We must walk right BECAUSE we are saved; and that we may enjoy real fellowship with Him.
"If we walk in the light as He is in the light we have fellowship one with another. and the blood of Christ cleanseth us from all sin. If we say we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." I Jno. 1: 7-9.
Only Saints Confess Sins
This language of I John is not applicable to, nor is it addressed to an unsaved person! God is not asking the lost to confess their sinful acts! That's the Papal way. Men are not lost because of their evil acts! Their bad acts are the result of what they ire! "Make the tree good and the fruit will be good!" The Publican in the temple did not ask God to forgive his sins. Those sinful acts were not to blame for his predicament. He saw, not his acts—but himself! And he prayed: "GOD BE MERCIFUL TO ME, A SINNER!" The Pharisee saw not HIMSELF, BUT HIS ACTS! That made the whole difference between the two!
In the first chapter, John is not concerned about the question of their relationship as children of God, but of their walking in fellowship with Him, and with each other as Christians. To say that spiritual relationship (or son-ship) and Christian fellowship are one and the same thing, is to contradict the plainest facts! To believe it you must make the "new birth" a mere Phrase, a transitory and occasional experience, and not a true, permanent, radical, complete "RE-CREATION!" That every careless or disobedient act, or failure of duty breaks our sweet peace and "fellowship," we snow. If SAVED, this is distressing, and we will and do repent of it! The oft-repeated "WE" in this epistle includes nobody but saints, in distinction from the "World." Confession restores our -fellowship," not our relationship. To say that it affects or changes our relationship, and makes us children of the devil, temporarily of the devil, and again children of God, utterly destroys the meaning of that blessed relationship. It surely does not mean less than the earthly family relationship that God uses to typify the heavenly. My child may disobey, and lose felowship, but relationship, NEVER. "If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons." He does not deal so with "bastards," and "He knoweth them that are His." Heb. 12)
Are Sheep Their Own Shepherd?
Some whom we love, and believe to be God's children, have very positively broken felowship with us. How gladly would we see that fellowship restored; but the terms they impose for such restoration we cannot accept, for we would be adopting a new code of rules deciding who are worthy to be recognized as saints. This would exclude some of the most faithful and venerated witnesses for Christ and His hated truth, saints who have joyfully sacrificed and suffered for His sake. According to these new rules, we MUST NOT believe that new birth into God's family is as real and irrevocable as is birth into the human family. (John 1:12, 13; Rom. 8:14-39; Gal. 3:26; I John 3:1-3, 6, 9, 5:18, etc.)
Must we deny that "Every one that lovcth is born of God, and knoweth God, and he that loveth not, knoweth not God?..." and that "Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world?" Instead, we are asked to believe that many who are born of God do not now love Him, or the brethren; nor do they overcome the world.
Must we read with mistrust that "Whosoever is born of God sinneth not, but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not?" Shall we discontinue belief that the "Great Shepherd of the sheep" assumes responsibility for keeping His sheep? If so, it is wholly up to the sheep to protect themselves from prowling wolves! Will "He who laid down His life for the sheep" cease to protect them, as His type, David, did when he took the lamb out of the mouth of the lion, and again out of the mouth of the bear? Must we believe that His strong language in John 10:28-30 is "pure bunk," and "very dangerous doctrine?"
The Saint's Surety Is In Heaven
Are we now to believe that many things can separate us from the love of God? Paul, in Rom. 8:28-39, inspired of God, says otherwise! "We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." But how do we know our love will "hold out," when "the love of MANY will wax cold?" The rest of the chapter is the answer. "He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God... for WHOM HE DID FOREKNOW, He also did predestinate; whom He predestinated, He called; whom He called He justified; whom He justified, He glorified. What shall we say to these things?" What can anybody say to these things? "If God be for us, WHO CAN BE AGAINST US?" Who is God for? That one "WHOM HE FOREKNEW", and therefore predestinated, called, justified and GLORIFIED! "HE THAT SPARED NOT HIS OWN SON, BUT DELIVERED HIM UP FOR US ALL, HOW SHALL HE NOT WITH HIM ALSO FREELY GIVE US ALL THINGS? WHO SHALL LAY ANYTHING TO THE CHARGE OF GOD'S ELECT- IT IS GOD THAT JUSTIFIETH. WHO IS HE THAT CONDEMNETH? IT IS CHRIST, YEA RATHER, THAT IS RISEN AGAIN, who is even at the right hand of God, who maketh intercession for us." For He said "I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine." Jn. 17:9. And His prayers are never denied! Jn. 11:42. . . . "NOT FOR THE WORLD." He died for the world, and now only calls on them to repent and believe the Gospel.
"Arise, my soul, arise! Shake off thy guilty fears!
A bleeding sacrifice in thy behalf appears!
Before the throne my surety stands,
My name is written on His hands.
He ever lives above, for me to intercede;
His all redeeming love, His precious blood to plead.
His atones for all our race,
And sprinkles now the throne of Grace."
Come on then, with your charges and accusations! You cannot exaggerate my guilt! I plead guilty! I offer no defense, or
extenuation! ONLY THIS COUNTS, AND IT SUFFICES! "THE BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST CLEANSETH US FROM ALL SIN." It is in the marrow of the Gospel!
Christians Can Fall
To 'deny that Chritians can fall "from Grace" is both foolish and wicked, for the Word of God teaches it. But the Christian can say with the prophet: "Rejoice not against me, 0 mine enemy, for when I fall I shall arise!" Mic. 7:8. The best Bible saints stumbled and fell, and the best .saints we have known fell! Every Christian may fall may falter and fail, and come short of their "walk in Him." Behaviour may give way under temptation and shrink from plain duty, resulting in a Cooling of love and zeal. Hence the warnings. No use to lie about it! Only a seared conscience or a confirmed hypocrite can claim absolute perfection in the walk. Take off your creed spectacles and read your Bible. Noah fell, Moses fell, Aaron fell, Miriam fell, Abraham fell: Lot fell, Isaac felt Jacob fell, and Rachel, Elijah, Solomon, and David fell, and the Bible does not wink at it, or apologize for it or excuse it, but tells' it to all the world because it is the Book of Truth! So we read of God's judgment of the holy ones of God for their sins, their failures, their faults. It tells of their bitter repentance and restoration to fellowship, for "whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth" - not for obedience but for disobedience. Prov. 24:16 "A just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again..." This truth concerning the fall of him whom God calls just is repeated in Psalm 37:24 and elsewhere, but it does not contradict or invalidate God's multiplied and positive assurance that saints really have eternal life; that Christ's sheep "shall never perish;" that the Christians' anchor is "sure and steadfast " and that nothing in heaven or earth shall EVER separate him from his Father's unfailing love.
I find no Biblical warning of spiritual peril which should not, (without doing violence to it) be construed to refer either to a superficial, false professor, or else to the fall of a real saint whose repentance and restoration follows! "They shall call His name Jesus for He shall have His people from their sins."
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