Thursday, May 27th, 2010
by Dionysis Theodorou
Last month I had a meeting with a client and we ended up discussing Israel, salvation and eternal life. I always enjoy these conversations very much; nevertheless, I am always surprised with people's convictions concerning their knowledge with regards to these issues while having never really studied the Bible.
Most people's opinions on faith are formed by the culture they grow up in and by the people they talk to who have usually grown up in the same culture and have been influenced by the same teachings and ideas.
Unfortunately, these opinions are deeply rooted from years and years of exposure and are hardly ever in line with what the Bible teaches.
The client that I ended up having a two hour conversation with admitted to never having read the Bible. My client was convinced that one could never be sure of their salvation and that believing in Jesus and putting your faith in him was definitely not enough. I was advised to consult a Greek Orthodox priest who would advise me on the issue and set things straight for me. Refer to "Emmanuel: God With Us", October 2009
He readily negated what I said and argued that Biblical verses I was using to back up my position were up for individual interpretation.
Obviously, there has to be some standard of approach to Biblical study and understanding which has to be couple with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit who ultimately interprets scripture for us and teaches us about Jesus.
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance , whatsoever I have said unto you.
But when the Comforter is come , whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.
But as it is written: "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him."
1 Corinthians 2:9-16
But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.
For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.
These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.
For "who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?" But we have the mind of Christ.
The Price and Promise of Eternal Life
The promise of eternal life has been given to those who have been born again by the spirit of God.
Refer to "You Must be Born Again".
The price of eternal life was paid in full when our Lord Jesus the Messiah and Lamb of God offered himself up for our sins, dying and spilling his blood on the cross.
John the baptist said "Behold the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world." John 1:29
The concept of blood atoning for sins is not exclusive to the New Testament. On the contrary, it is almost exclusive to the Tanach, the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament: It finds its fulfilment or completion in the sacrificial, atoning death of our Lord Jesus.
Exodus 12:3, 6, 7, 13
Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: 'On the tenth day of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household.
Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight.
And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it.
Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.
For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.
The blood in the Old Testament is symbolic of the blood of Jesus the Lamb of God whose blood was spilt on the cross.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
This atonement is a complete atonement or a complete forgiveness of sins past, present and future.
Isaiah 1: 18-19
"Come now, and let us reason together," Says the Lord, "Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool."
It could not be anything else otherwise the Lamb of God would have to be sacrificed over and over to perpetually atone for our sins. However, he died once and then sat at the right hand of our father in heaven to make intercession for us.
For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another--He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.
Take heart, rid yourself of unnecessary and ungodly guilt and be encouraged: If you are saved, you cannot lose your salvation!
If your salvation could be lost then there would arise the question of gaining it back.
How great would the sin need to be that you could lose your salvation and how great a repentance would be needed to gain it back? How many times over could you lose and regain your salvation?
The Son of God was born into a sinful world from a glorious kingdom of holiness so that he could teach, heal, love, suffer, die and be raised up from the dead so that we could have eternal life. Our salvation is a gift. If we had to earn it, it wouldn't be a gift, it would be payment.
1 John 1:9
The price of eternal life has been paid in full. We cannot do anything towards our salvation.
The remorse you feel when you sin can very easily be transformed into guilt and fear: Turn to God and do not doubt your salvation. The fact that you feel remorse is the conviction of the Holy Spirit who dwells in you. Ask God for forgiveness and move on forward.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
This is how we grow.
Is salvation a licence to sin? Absolutely not!
When one is born again of the spirit of God a new creation is born.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them.And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
This new creation is born to do God's will.
Instincts are changed, and new heart is given and a new spirit is put into you. God removes the heart of stone and gives you a heart of flesh Ezekiel 36:26; Ezekiel 11:19 and the individual falls in love with Jesus.
When you are in love you no longer do things out of duty: You are no longer under the law but under grace and liberty. The Lord said, 'if you love me you will do my commandments.' The Lord is not saying, if you love me prove it to me by doing my commandments. He is saying, if you love me it follows that you will do my commandments. The Psalmist said: I obey your statutes, for I love them greatly.
Sacrifice and offering You did not desire; My ears You have opened. Burnt offering and sin offering You did not require. Then I said, "Behold, I come; In the scroll of the book it is written of me. I delight to do Your will, O my God, And Your law is within my heart."
The Lord is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. He will not always strive with us, Nor will He keep His anger forever.
He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father pities his children, So the Lord pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.
When we slip up we should ask the Lord for forgiveness. 1 John 1:9
When I met the Lord back in 1998 I was so convicted of sin that I wanted to completely banish it from my life.
I couldn't understand the concept of sinning as a believer and I was in constant fear of being ensnared by sin.
I focused so much on "Be perfect as your father in heaven is perfect" that I lost "the truth shall set you free".
King David was a man after God's own heart. David committed adultery with Batsheva and committed murder by conspiring against Batsheva's husband having him killed. Consider how much David loved God and how great his repentance was.
To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.
Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me.
Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight-- That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.
Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Make me hear joy and gladness, That the bones You have broken may rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins, And blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners shall be converted to You.
Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, The God of my salvation, And my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness.
O Lord, open my lips, And my mouth shall show forth Your praise.
For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart-- These, O God, You will not despise.
Do good in Your good pleasure to Zion; Build the walls of Jerusalem. Then You shall be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, With burnt offering and whole burnt offering; Then they shall offer bulls on Your altar.
Sinners Saved By Grace
As I continued to walk with the Lord, read the scriptures and spend time with other believers I learned and understood that we are in fact still sinners: We are forgiven sinners. Perfection will arrive when the Lord takes us to be with him in his eternal kingdom. There will be no sin, no death, no sickness and all tears will be wiped away.
In Jesus' Kingdom our instincts will be perfect and we will be naturally inclined to do good.
In our current state we are naturally inclined to do bad. The spirit of God helps us to live in the spirit (supernatural) and not in our flesh (natural) and there is no condemnation for those who live in the spirit. Romans 8:1 (Read all of Romans 8)
We have to let go and love the Lord with all our hearts, with all our minds and with all our strength. Let's do this. Let us let go of the guilt and live as free children of God constrained only by the love of Jesus.
Consider how much frustration Paul must have felt trying to fight against the sinful nature of his flesh in the knowledge of the holiness of God.
We know what is right but we do wrong.
We agree with the law of God but we break it. How blessed are we that Jesus paid the heavy price for us to enter the holy presence of God.
For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin.
For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.
But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.
For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.
For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.
Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.
I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good.
For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.
But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
I thank God--through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.
Our sinful flesh could never enter his Holy Kingdom.
We are sealed with the promise of eternity Ephesians 1:13-14 and when the Lord returns--notice this: death will be clothed with life, corruption with incorruption, mortality with immortality. 1 Corinthians 15:47-58
We are still corrupt sinners and we will still sin. Let's not deceive ourselves and burden ourselves with expectations that our Lord does not require from us for his yoke is easy and his burden is light. Matthew 11:30
Paul called himself the chief of sinners 1 Timothy 1:15 and cried out "O wretched man am I." Romans 7:24.
Paul had a thorn in his side, something that bothered him tremendously. 2 Corinthians 12:7
He called this thorn a messenger of satan which prevented him from being exalted. It kept him humble. Paul begged the Lord to remove it.
The Lord said "My grace is sufficient to you for in your weakness my strength is made perfect."
2 Corinthians 12:9
Do you have a thorn in your flesh? Could this thorn be sin? Sin makes us feel weak. We feel ashamed. Listen to God's voice. He is calling you to repentance: "My grace is sufficient: In your weakness my strength is made perfect.”
Sin is here to remind us of God's grace for in much sin there is an abundance of grace.
When we were dead in our sins, death reigned; Now that we are alive to God, grace reigns. Romans 5:20
Our Lord's love goes beyond anything we as sinful humans could ever grasp. He never actually intended for us to have to sacrifice anything.
In the beginning, he created man to be master over his creation. Imagine all the goodness that Adam and Eve received as a gift. Did the Lord ask them for anything in return? For their own good, he asked them not to touch the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Evil was present and God wanted to protect them from it.
When Adam and Eve sinned the Lord himself acted as high priest and sacrificed an animal, spilling blood to atone for their sins. Genesis 3:21 He then dressed them in the animal's skin to hide there unrighteousness.
We are washed by the blood of the Lamb of God and dressed with Jesus' robe of righteousness.
Isaiah 61:10; Ephesians 4:24
God never intended for us to sacrifice anything. What does God need from us? The heavens are his and the fullness thereof. Psalm 50:8-14 ; Psalm 40:6
He was to make the ultimate sacrifice by offering up his son and since Adam's sin he has been preparing us to comprehend the price of his sacrifice. Humanity could never begin to comprehend the sacrifice of the Lamb of God had the system of sacrifice atoning for sin not been instituted in Israel. The law, the rituals and the ceremonies served as a teacher for us all.
The only thing that could save us was the sacrifice of the Lamb of God.
The sacrifices in the Old Testament could not cleanse us and save us from our sinful nature.
Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:24-26
The blood of bulls and goats could not really take away sin. Hebrews 9 Only the lamb which was slain before the foundation of the earth could atone for our sins absolutely and completely.
Nothing Can Separate Us From God
Israel was blessed with a personal relationship with God but was also burdened with all the laws and the punishment for breaking these laws to serve as an example for all of us.
Has God forsaken his ancient people because of their sin? Absolutely not. For the promises of God are irrevocable and all of Israel will be saved.
There are doctrines that teach that Israel has somehow been replaced because of their sins and because they rejected the Messiah. It is no wonder that the doctrine exists that salvation can be lost. If all the promises that God made to Israel are nullified because of sin then it follows that our salvation can also be nullified because of sin.
Notice that once we are saved nothing can separate us from the love of Jesus.
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. John 10:27-28
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: "For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter."
Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
To entertain the notion that Israel has been castaway after more than two thousand years (Abraham to Jesus, without mentioning the last two thousand years of suffering, persecution and death) of covenants, prophets, judges, kings, conquests, sufferings, chastisements, blessings, gifts of law and grace and the great hope and promise of a deliverer who will end all the pain, places us-as gentile believers, with, in comparison, no history with God-in the most inconvenient and insecure of predicaments: One could say: If after all this Israel has been castaway, what sort of a chance do we stand?
Israel has not been castaway and neither can we be cast away.
And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob;
For this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins."
Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers.
For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.
The message all through the Bible is clear: Once you repent, are washed of your sins by the blood of the Lamb and the Holy Spirit indwells you, you are a child of God forever.
The notion of being in love with Jesus and being afraid of losing your salvation does not go hand in hand for "We have not been given a spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind" 2 Timothy 1:7 and "Love casts out all fear." 1 John 4:18
Fear God and You Have Nothing Else To Fear
When Paul says: I subject my body so that I myself would not be disqualified, is he teaching that we may lose our salvation or is putting the fear of God in us for the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him. Psalm 147:11 Paul is urging us to keep watch; to be alert to stay awake just as our Lord Jesus told us to stay awake for we know neither the day nor the hour of his return.
These promises should by no means encourage complacency and boasting for if we are saved we shall also bear the fruit of salvation and righteousness for faith without works is dead like the body without the spirit is dead. James 2:26
Although there is a Sabbath, or rest, for the people of God, Hebrews 4:9-10, we are never really at rest.
This is the paradox of a spirit filled believer's life: we are dead, yet alive; we are hungry, yet filled; we are naked yet clothed; beaten, persecuted and scorned yet well, bold and rejoicing. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9
I try to explain this to my friends and family who do not know the Lord and they simply cannot grasp this peace that passes all understanding. Philippians 4:7
Don't take my word for it for everyone has to work out his own salvation in fear and trembling.
Seek The Lord with All Your Heart
The Lord knows your heart and he cannot be fooled. If you know the Lord personally and intimately you know that you are saved. If you do not feel sure then you must seek the Lord with all your heart and persist. Jeremiah 29:13
Seek the Lord with all you heart and ask him to forgive you of your sins and to make your salvation sure.
Ask the Lord Jesus to give you security in your salvation and to reveal himself to you in an intimate way.
Seek him. Love him. Seek to know him.
His mercies are new every morning and he always has something more to give.
Rest in him while you strive against sin. Trust him with all your being. Ask him to help you every step of the way. Be still and know that he is God.
Other verses of interest which are related to our discussion
The Bible talks so much about liberty in knowing God. In the Old Testament this liberty was promised but not yet granted; The New Testament is a covenant of liberty based in the supernatural intervention of God in our lives through Jesus' sacrifice and the presence of the Holy Spirit who dwells in our hearts.
"Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah--not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord.
But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
No more shall every man teach his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord.
For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."
But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe.
For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith.
Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.
Or is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles?
Yes, of the Gentiles also, since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.
Do we then make void the law through faith?
On the contrary, we establish the law.
I would recommend reading the whole of Paul's epistle to the Galatians.
Here are some verses from Galatians.
Galatians 3:1-9 (Read the Whole Chapter)
Galatians 4:1-11; 22-23; 29-31
Galatians 5:1; 4; 8-9; 13-14
Galatians 6:1-5; 12-18