Bible · Christian Security · Conditional Security · Doctrinal · Interpretation · OSAS

Conditional Security – Luke 11:24-26

Luke 11:24-26

“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order. Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that person is worse than the first.”

Security

Many of the parables taught by the Lord address the issue of the security of the believer. It is also important to remember that the parables are given to make a specific point.

I remember as a young believer, being told not to make a parable “walk on all four legs” I am not sure what that means now that I think about it, but the message I got back then was to find one primary message from each parable. Some parables are obvious.  Some (possibly due to my obtuseness) are not that obvious.

This one seems obvious. Notice in the passage that the house had been cleaned and garnished, but no occupant was mentioned. Jesus tells this parable immediately upon casting out a demon from a mute man. He is cleaning up the house of Israel, and has just released a demon from one of it’s citizens. Jesus then responds to the evil generation of the house of Israel (See Matthew 12:45) in warning them of their future condition. He will continue to address this “evil generation” many times in the gospels, warning them of their future and final state.

The Lord had just cast out a mute demon from a man and immediately “some of them” (See Luke 11:15) continued with their claim of the Lord being empowered by Satan. Jesus had provided ample evidence to the nation of His identity, yet they turned to a lie. Instead of embracing the God of deliverance, this evil generation condemned a guiltless man, crucified their God, and became a house that was open for demons.

For the previous three years, Jesus had been cleaning the nation (the house of Israel), in this particular instance, rescuing a victim of demon possession, while the leaders condemned the Deliverer. With the final rejection of God in the flesh, the nation should only expect those of the evil horde to return and possess the man (also called the house in this passage, ie. the nation of Israel) with many more than before.

Security and Obedience

Some may say that the nation of Israel had promises from God that made this scenario impossible to occur. Promises directly from God that guaranteed a bright and glorious future for the physical nation of Israel. After all, Israel was the recipient of the promises of God.  Surely God’s promises could be counted on for security. To find a discussion on this topic I refer you to an earlier set of five posts for your consideration. The series starts with Promises to Israel – An Introduction

This passages lends itself to the truth of conditional security, generally teaching that, although many promises were granted to the nation of Israel, their continued stubborn refusal to submit to the Master left them open to “alternate influences” and a final destiny that was warned of often in the Old Testament and many times by the Master while walking amongst them.


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Conditional Security – 1 Corinthians 11:29-32

For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world. – 1 Corinthians 11:29-32

Come on Paul, condemned with the world?

We can never be condemned with the world!  Believers are rescued from this present evil world (Galations 1:4) and Jesus promised that we have overcome the world.

I personally believe there are no contradictions in our God breathed Bible.  So how dare Paul break my security bubble by saying that if we are not disciplined, there is the risk of being condemned along with the world.

Note he says along with the world – with, by association, companionship, resemblance, possession, instrumentality, addition, etc.

I thought when we first got saved, condemnation along with the world was forever removed from our lives. And yet Paul brings this topic up to believers in Corinth.

As some who follow, I have written posts regarding the difference between judging and condemning, and found that judging may have a positive connotation to it. Think of when you win a formal debate, or a foot race. The audience judges you the winner!

The word Paul uses in this verse is condemn, and is not used in any sense of a positive judgement as described above. Check out the list below for all the times this word “condemn” is used, and consider the context of our verse in consideration today, as it relates to believers.

Can believers be condemned with the world? Take note of the multiple times Paul refers to judgement by ourselves or the Lord, previous to his using the “c” word.


New Testament verses containing the Greek word katakrinō, translated as condemn.

Matthew 12:41, 42 The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.


Matthew 20:18 “See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death


Matthew 27:3 Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders,


Mark 10:33 saying, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles.


Mark 14:64 You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?” And they all condemned him as deserving death.


Mark 16:16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.


Luke 11:31 The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.


Luke 11:32 The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.


John 8:10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”


John 8:11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”


Romans 2:1 Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.

Romans 8:3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,

Romans 8:34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died–more than that, who was raised–who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

Romans 14:23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.


1 Corinthians 11:32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.


Hebrews 11:7 By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.


2 Peter 2:6 if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly;


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Conditional Security – 2 Peter 1:5-11

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. – 2 Peter 1:5-11 ESV

If these things (that is – faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection and finally love) abound, Peter tells his audience they will not be unfruitful.

He that lacks these things (that is – faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection and finally love), Peter goes on to tell the lost that they are so nearsighted, they are blind. Nope – Can’t say that -. I can’t make that audience shift here. Peter is continuing to speak to believers, when he defines them as blind and forgetful.

Seeing this comparison, Peter then states that if we give diligence to “make our calling and election sure” we will have an entrance ministered unto us abundantly.

Ok, so here is the problem – “…. confirm your calling and election”  (See below for gk definition of “confirm”)

If we pursue the many steps that Peter speaks of, then my election is confirmed.  Consider some of the questions implications, my friend.

  • What if we spend our entire life seeking these characteristics and then in the last five years, throw it all away.  Will my election be confirmed? 
  • Who is it that knows of this surety?  Is it a matter of confidence for God or myself?  It must be a matter of confidence for myself if I practice these characteristics.
  • Remember this is dealing with confirmation of our salvation, not the purchasing or final deliverance of our souls. That is the grace of our Lord completing that. Our diligence in working on these characteristics provides us confirmation of our entrance into the eternal kingdom.
  • Is anyone else thinking of Ezekiel 18:24? 1 Peter and Ezekiel deal with somewhat different topics. This passage is not dealing directly with conditional security of the believer (as Ezekiel 18) but it does address a believer’s own understanding of his security with the Lord. What I mean is that the perception of the saint and the reality of the situation may be surprising when found out.

So lets review –

  1. If I practice these traits in my life I will have confidence in my salvation.
  2. If I don’t practice these traits in my life, I loose confidence in my salvation.

But some might say that even without this confidence (due to my diligence in supplementing my salvation), I can still be confident of my salvation.

Am I missing something?


Word study on “Confirm” from Vines Expository Dictionary

G949
βέβαιος
[ A-2,Adjective,G949, bebaios ]
“firm, steadfast,” is used of
(a) God’s promise to Abraham, Romans 4:16;
(b) the believer’s hope, Hebrews 6:19, “steadfast;”
(c) the hope of spiritual leaders regarding the welfare of converts, 2 Corinthians 1:7, “steadfast;”
(d) the glorying of the hope, Hebrews 3:6, “firm;”
(e) the beginning of our confidence, Hebrews 3:14, RV, “firm” (AV, “steadfast”);
(f) the Law given at Sinai, Hebrews 2:2, “steadfast;”
(g) the testament (or covenant) fulfilled after a death, Hebrews 9:17, “of force;”
(h) the calling and election of believers, 2 Peter 1:10, to be made “sure” by the fulfillment of the injunctions in 2 Peter 1:5-7;
(i) the word of prophecy, “made more sure,” 2 Peter 1:19, RV, AV, “a more sure (word of prophecy);” what is meant is not a comparison between the prophecies of the OT and NT, but that the former have been confirmed in the person of Christ (2 Peter 1:16-18). See FIRM.


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Conditional Security – 2 John 1:6-9

2 John 1:6-9

And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it.
For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist.
Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward.
Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.

This passage starts out as many passages in John’s epistles start out, describing love and how love is defined through obeying the commandments – no – let’s be clear – through obeying His commandments. We must remember that in John’s mind, when the term “commandments” comes up, He is referring to the words of Jesus, the full revelation of God’s will, and not simply to Moses commandments from Sinai.

As we have noted in earlier posts, Jesus reinterpreted the Mosaic code to provide His followers the fully orbed character of God reflected in His commandments, through examples He gave us and teachings He has supplied us. A good example of Jesus reinterpretation of the Mosaic commands may be found when He taught His understanding of God’s commandments in contrast to some of the laws in the decalogue.

You have heard that it was said…But I say to you 

This is a radical teaching that must have shocked the religious Jew, but I am starting down a rabbit trail, for this is not the principle reason for this post.

We just need to understand that when John speaks of commands, he is referring to what Jesus taught, as opposed to referring back to Moses. This connection in John’s mind, linking “commandment” and “love” is further supported by checking out the verse prior to our passage, and John 13:34.

John, in verse 7 then introduces some deceivers he wants to warn his loved ones of. The one characteristic John uses to describe a deceiver is that they

do not confess the coming of Jesus in the flesh

Is the Christ a partaker of flesh? Did He walk the earth as a man, fully God and die a death for all? This teaching of His humanity, is a watershed teaching that John is directing his people to hold on to. The issue for John is the believers faith in the correct Messiah, One who walked the earth fully human, and fully God.

Quite a while back, I provided a series of posts on 1 John, and addressed this topic. For those who may want to check it out, see 1 John – Testing to Know – Test 11

John is speaking of those who are teaching of Jesus as not God in the flesh. John describes them as deceivers and the antichrist. (What? The antichrist during John’s lifetime? – Something to discuss in a different post!)

Let’s focus on the next verse. John says

Watch yourselves so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward.

Notice the pronoun change in this verse. John speaks of the believers loosing what the apostles have worked for. The believers were provided a gift, presumably the teaching of Jesus coming in the flesh, that has been delivered to the saints. Per John’s discussion so far, deceivers are out and about, drawing believers away from a central teaching of Christianity.

As an OSAS (One Saved, Always Saved) believer previously, I always found refuge in the last phrase of verse 8, in that he was concerned the believers

…may win a full reward.

Taken alone, this verse might lend itself to a believer maintaining his salvation, but loosing his reward in glory, yet the next verse gives me some pause.

Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.

How do I dance away from the implications John is communicating in this verse. A number of items to draw your attention to.

John is speaking to believers. When he writes of anyone who

does not abide in the teaching of Christ

he speaks of believers, for only believers abide in the teaching of Christ. He then makes a direct connection with those who do not abide as not having God. John does not speak of the rewards of God, but of God Himself. He then clarifies this warning further by defining who has both the Father and the Son as those who abide in the teaching of

the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh

As believers, we must abide, remain, dwell, continue in the core teachings of the Word. This is a foundational teaching, a teaching that defines one as a believer. Many claim to be Christian nowadays. Claiming to be a believer, yet refusing to confess that Jesus Christ came in the flesh. How can that be? John says it cannot be.

God the Son was (and is) a man that walked the earth from conception through the crucifixion, resurrection and ascension, currently sitting in heaven, praying for His people. Do not listen to those who may take verses out of context, or speak from some logical basis, or simply deny (or avoid) the teaching John provided us.

We must cling to the written Word, and walk in the truth of Jesus Christ, loving one another if we are not to join the deceivers and antichrists. The apostles provided a New Testament record so that we may walk properly. As we abide in the truth of Jesus’ humanity, we shall not loose the full reward of knowing God and His Son Jesus Christ.

Be blessed today in the truth of Jesus Christ, and of His immense sacrifice for us, even in the taking on of flesh for the sake of those who despised and rejected Him.

He is good, all the time!


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Conditional Security – 1 John 5:16-17 Part B

1 John 5:16-17

16 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.

All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death.

In our last post, as we were looking at this passage, we admitted to five questions that came to mind. We tried to deal with the first two of the five in our first post. Let’s tackle our last three questions.

  1. What is sin not leading to death?
  2. What is the specific sin that leads to death?
  3. Why are we told not to pray?

Ok – So let’s dive in, but as a quick review, let’s summarize our earlier findings.

  1. “Does this verse refer to believers?”
    • Yes
  2. What is meant when the apostle speaks of death?
    • Separation

Onward to our next three questions.

What is a sin not leading to death?

How can John say this? Is not the wages of sin death? Does not the soul that sins die?

Note the indefinite article associated with sin not leading to death. It is “a sin”, a singular sin (?), not necessarily a continuous lifestyle, and not specifically identified. Note also, that this sin is seen by the brother. It is a visible sin, not a sin of thought, but of action or attitude. The Word speaks of the remedy for this situation as the appropriate rebuke of the sinning believer, with the sinful brother’s confession and restitution (if required) offered to God and the offended party.

Unintentional Sin

I would like to add one additional thought before moving on to our next section. Could an Old Testament passage possibly shed some light on John’s reference to “a sin” in this passage? The book of Numbers speaks of unintentional and intentional sin, which may be in the back of John’s mind.

Consider

Numbers 15:27-28

If one person sins unintentionally, he shall offer a female goat a year old for a sin offering.
And the priest shall make atonement before the LORD for the person who makes a mistake, when he sins unintentionally, to make atonement for him, and he shall be forgiven.

As we discuss of sin not leading to death and of sin leading to death, the Numbers passage may provide some background to John’s teaching regarding sin in a covenant family. So let us proceed unto “sin that leads to death”.

What is sin that leads to death?

John now speaks of sin (not “a” sin) that leads to death. No indefinite article here, and no reference to a brother “seeing” this condition of sin.

Let’s return to the passage from Numbers to see if intentional sin is discussed, and the result of this sin.

Numbers 15:30 But the person who does anything with a high hand, whether he is native or a sojourner, reviles the LORD, and that person shall be cut off from among his people.

Cut off! Removed from the covenant people. Separated from the covenant people. Separated, my friends. Where have I heard that term before?

Let’s consider a few additional Old Testament verses of the same vein.

Deuteronomy 29:19-20

one who, when he hears the words of this sworn covenant, blesses himself in his heart, saying, ‘I shall be safe, though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart.’ This will lead to the sweeping away of moist and dry alike.
The LORD will not be willing to forgive him, but rather the anger of the LORD and his jealousy will smoke against that man, and the curses written in this book will settle upon him, and the LORD will blot out his name from under heaven.

Stubbornness of heart. I would humbly suggest this is the issue in our passage in John, and that this stubbornness of heart leads to an apostacy, or a falling away from faith.

My friends, we need to be open to the Lord’s words, no matter how difficult the message may seem.

I have a friend with whom I chat with, an old friend who I love dearly, but he has informed me that he will not consider some questions I pose to him. Is he in danger of being cut off? I think not, since his desire is to know God deeper personally in his life, and most of the question I ask are of a secondary bible topic. Yet I feel an open and honest discussion of alternate views of the Bible that honor the Lord Jesus will only open up opportunities to know Him better, and to understand His family of believers.

Generally, an attitude of presumption (see Deuteronomy 29:19 above) may be one of the more dangerous positions for a believer to settle into, and allows for a dropping of our guard on many (if not all) of the attacks we may have to fight in our walk with the Master. And what is the result of this stubbornness of heart?

No forgiveness. The Bible actually states “The LORD will not be willing to forgive him“. This is one of the most startling phrases in the Word and when read with a sober mind, should shock each and everyone of us that have tasted that the Lord is good, that He is a merciful and loving God.

But this passage is not the only passage that speaks of unforgiveness towards a covenant people. Consider the following.

Leviticus 20:3 I myself will set my face against that man and will cut him off from among his people, because he has given one of his children to Molech, to make my sanctuary unclean and to profane my holy name.

Offering children up in human sacrifice to a false god is worthy of being cut off (separated) from the covenant people.

Leviticus 20:6 “If a person turns to mediums and necromancers, whoring after them, I will set my face against that person and will cut him off from among his people.

Looking for spiritual guidance from anyone other than God results in being cut off (separated) from a covenant people.

Leviticus 17:10″If any one of the house of Israel or of the strangers who sojourn among them eats any blood, I will set my face against that person who eats blood and will cut him off from among his people.

The blood represents life, and is the God-given opportunity for atonement. The eating of the blood is a direct affront to God’s provision. Result? To be cut off from God’s people.

Leviticus 26:17 ESV – I will set my face against you, and you shall be struck down before your enemies. Those who hate you shall rule over you, and you shall flee when none pursues you.

This is a verse from a lengthy passage describing the patience of the Lord with His people. See Conditional Security – Leviticus 26:14-45 for a discussion.

Jeremiah and Ezekiel use this same terminology of the Lord setting His face against His people and His nation.

Jeremiah 44:11 ESV – “Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I will set my face against you for harm, to cut off all Judah.

Ezekiel 14:8 ESV – And I will set my face against that man; I will make him a sign and a byword and cut him off from the midst of my people, and you shall know that I am the LORD.

Ezekiel 15:7 ESV – And I will set my face against them. Though they escape from the fire, the fire shall yet consume them, and you will know that I am the LORD, when I set my face against them.

Each of the previous verses have spoken of the intent of the Lord in relation to the sin of His people. Jeremiah let’s us know of the reality of the Lord setting His face against His people.

Jeremiah 21:10 ESV – For I have set my face against this city for harm and not for good, declares the LORD: it shall be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire.’

The reality of this verse occurred during the Babylonian siege and the following captivity, where death reigned down on the Israelites, and many were dragged off to another land. A truly horrific time in the nations history, a time which would sadly be repeated.

In summary, the sin that leads to death is not specifically defined by John, for it may have been an obvious condition brought about by many means, but with one main characteristic.

I would suggest the sin unto death is a falling away from God, from a desire to follow after God, to regard His commands (which are not burdensome – 1 John 5:3) as not worthy to consider, and to return to an existence of living in darkness, rejecting His guidance and provision.

I would suggest this to be a decision by a believer to actively (or passively) walk away from God, to determine to separate himself from the mercy of the Lord.

A continual and persistent willful disobedience to God.

Apostacy.

Why are we told not to pray?

In keeping with considering Old Testament references in seeking to understand 1 John 5, when he instructs believers to “not pray” for the believer in this condition, I would offer the following passages.

Jeremiah 7:16 “As for you, do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer for them, and do not intercede with me, for I will not hear you.

Jeremiah 11:14 “Therefore do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer on their behalf, for I will not listen when they call to me in the time of their trouble.

Jeremiah 14:11 The LORD said to me: “Do not pray for the welfare of this people.

Granted, the only person instructed not to pray for the people in the Old Testament is the prophet Jeremiah, and it is instructive that he was the prophet left with the covenant people just prior to their destruction. Up until the end, the Lord was continually looking for those who may return to Him to return. To experience His forgiveness.

Look to the Lord continually. As a spirit of stubbornness against Him rises in your heart, confess, admit your weakness and seek the Lord’s mercy.

After this study, I realize my need of His grace more than ever and pray that those who read this post would be encouraged to seek Him out of love for Him, and not out of fear. He is constantly seeking us and we need to be pliable in His hands for His glory and our good.

For the Lord is good all the time.


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Conditional Security – 1 John 5:16-17 Part A

1 John 5:16-17

16 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.

All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death.

My friends, this is a tough passage!

So many questions that seem to conflict with general Bible teaching, or at least my understanding of what the Bible teaches. Which is good, for we need to be challenged by the Word, and to have our minds renewed by it’s teaching. We should never be content with our current understanding, which so often veers from our original understanding.

Let’s try to answer these question in two posts. Our first post on this tough passage will dwell on the following two questions. (Taking the relatively easy questions first cause I’m a bit of a chicken on the last three!)

  1. Does this verse refer only to believers throughout its teaching?
  2. What is meant when the apostle speaks of death?

Our second post will consider the final three questions.

  1. What is sin not leading to death?
  2. What is the specific sin that leads to death?
  3. Why are we told not to pray?

So, let us begin with our first two questions.

Does this verse refer only to believers throughout its teaching?

Of the following questions, this one seems the easiest to answer, yet has had the greatest impact on my own Bible understanding when I let the verse speak for itself. It seems obvious that the apostle is instructing the believer to pray (or not to pray) for a brother, in both the act of sinning not unto death and of sinning unto death. No other person (i.e. a non-believer) is brought into the verse to suggest otherwise.

This is alarming, at least from a position of a “once saved always saved” adherent, since the passage states that a believer could enter into sin that leads to death. But I am getting ahead of myself, for we need to understand term “death” before we can try to understand what the apostle is trying to communicate to us.

What is meant when the apostle speaks of death?

When you hear the term death, what comes to mind? A grave? Sorrow? Non-existence?

A quick look into the Greek definition of θάνατος thánatos, reveals that the word typically means separation. The term generally refers to separation in two ways.

  • Thánatos may refer to the separation of the soul of a man from his physical body, with the body returning to dust.
  • Thánatos may be used in speaking of the spiritual separation of man from God, as a result of the original sin, or our own sinful thoughts and actions.

Generally, I understand this term in relation to either the physical or the spiritual realm. The Word speaks of both, as the following verses illustrate.

Physical death of believers in Corinth

1 Corinthians 11:27-30

Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord.
Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.
For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.
That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.

Physical death of Ananias

Acts 5:3-5 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land?
While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.”
When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it.

Physical death of Sapphira

Acts 5:9 – 10

But Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.”
Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband.

Spiritual death.

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death…

Ezekiel 18:20 The soul who sins shall die…

James 5: 20 …whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

How is spiritual death to be understood in relation to believers?

The previous verses imply that believers may experience spiritual death, since both verses were addressed to covenant people in a relationship with God. See Conditional Security – Romans 6:11-23 for further information on this particular topic.

I hope to look at Ezekiel 18:20 in an upcoming post.

Regarding James 5, I have written on this passage in an earlier post. (See Conditional Security – James 5:19-20). I do not understand the death this erring brother was close to experiencing to be simply physical death, and if of interest, check out the associated posting provided above.

Where does the unforgivable sin fit into all of our discussion? I tried to understand this topic in an earlier post. (See Book Look – Heaven’s Doors – Unpardonable Sin).

Currently, I am of the opinion that during the Lord’s time on earth, the unforgivable sin could, and was committed, but was directly associated with the generation the Lord was addressing at the time of His sojourn on earth.

Of course, the heart of the unforgivable sin (assigning an unclean spirit to the Spirit of God in Jesus) may be a very real possibility today. I would call it apostacy, but that word may be interpreted in various manners and may communicate different things to different people. Definitely worthy of a study on it’s own, but this particular post is getting a bit long in the tooth!

Ok, so with that review of who the apostle was addressing (believers) and a concept of what the concept of death communicates to us (separation) from the pages of the Word, I suggest we consider the impact of this conclusion. For myself, it raises conflicts in my mind that I truly need to resolve, but that I surely cannot do within this current post.

In our next post we will make an effort to address the difficult questions for this verse. Of course, as we venture through this passage, I look to my readers for thier understanding also.

Please take advantage of the comment box below to provide your thoughts.

No matter your position, the Lord has proven to us that He seeks to give us life and that life is in His Son. Look to Him for your hope and faith, knowing that His love is ever-present and never failing.

Look to Him.

In all your doubts and confusion, disappointments and concerns, look to Him.


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Bible · Christian Security · Conditional Security · Doctrinal · Interpretation · OSAS

Conditional Security – James 1:21-22

James 1:21-22

21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

With the book of James (as in all of the Scripture) it is imperative to understand who the apostle is writing to. For our passage today, is this passage directed to those outside the church, or to believers? If we look at the passage independently of the context, it may appear to be addressed to non believers, especially when James speaks of receiving…

with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

But let us not be single verse believers and consider the context. James makes sure we are to understand this passage as applying to believers in verse 19.

Jas 1:19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;

Ok – So we know that James intends for his brothers in the faith to be hearing this message, but what does the passage have to say in regards to conditional security?

Receive with Meekness

Believers are to receive with meekness the implanted word. If the Word is implanted (another nod to James speaking to believers), we have received it already, correct? What more do we need?

Let’s consider the term “recieve”. As I have mentioned in this blog previously, I am no Greek geek, but depend on desktop studies of others to try to understand the implications of the original language for our studies.

For the word “receive” I refer to BLB (Blue Letter Bible) as a resource for our study. Under the tools button for each verse, a tab shows up allowing for an interlinear data base to come up. Using the reverse tab, the following data comes up for our word “receive”

At this point, since receive is a verb, I click on the right hand button (V-XXX-XX) to find the “parsing” of the verb.

One more step to understand what all this means. Each of the underlined terms are hot links to help us understand the verb we are looking at.

An easy one for myself is the mood of the verb in this instance. Our verb has the imperative mood. This is a command. Believers are to actively take part in receiving the Word.

Voice speaks of who is performing the action. A middle voice notes that the subject (the beloved brethren in this case) is the agent of the action. The believer is performing the action of receiving. All of this is simply stating what seems obvious from the English translation.

The aorist tense is what helps me to understand that this action as not limited to a past decision or act of faith. The aorist tense has no regard to the past present or future. It defines a point in time, sometimes referring to the past, and yet this is too limiting.

If I understand the passage correctly, James is telling the believers to receive (at some point in time) the Word of God, which is already implanted in our souls as believers. To receive the Word, we must remove filthiness and wickedness, (another action of the believer).

I have previously seen this passage as a call to sanctification, a passage that speaks of our responsibility to understand and obey God’s will for our lives. Without the next phrase, I would be certain it is a sanctification passage. It’s just that I kinda struggle with what James is telling believers about saving their souls.

Able to Save your Souls

Saving your soul. What in tarnation is that? I thought our souls were saved at the point of conversion, when we first believed.

Maybe other translations translate this term differently? All of the popular English translations use the phrase “save your souls” in this verse, except for the NIV, which translates it as “save your life”. So what is James trying to tell us?

Notice that the implanted word is “able” to save our souls. Ability is an interesting word when it comes to reading the Word. Some that I have interacted with on other blogs interpret the ability to perform an act as synonymous with the completion of the same act.

When I think of the ability to save, I think of the boys in the furnace back in the book of Daniel.

Daniel 3:17-18
If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.
But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

Notice that the boys confessed God’s ability, but not the outcome (in relation to the furnace). The young Hebrew men spoke of God’s ability to save His children, but allowed for God to choose how to save his children.

To be able to do a task is to have sufficient power to accomplish that task. In relation to our passage today, I understand James is telling believers that the Word has sufficient power to save our souls. I am not convinced James is speaking of the final result, that is the saving of our soul, but of a potential result.

So is this a sanctification verse or a security passage?

But let us not end with simply a question but an affirmation that comes shining through this passage. God is able and has supplied all the needs of the saint. He is the provider of everything the believer requires to save our souls. He is the Savior and we are the ones who need Him so.


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Conditional Security – Hebrews 13:7

Hebrews 13:7

Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.

We find our passage today in the midst of the final chapter of the book of Hebrews, where the apostolic author (whomever it may be!) is guiding the Hebrew believers in the exercising of their faith. Granted, in this passage I will not go so far as to state the intent of the author is to communicate a conditional security message, yet I will request your consideration of the passage in light of our topic.

For the readers information, I have provided my understanding of this passage in a series of five posts under the title Christian Accountability A review may help in understanding my general perspective on this passage.

Some of the questions that arise in my mind are as follows.

Why remember our leaders?

Is not our faith a “personal faith in our personal Savior”? What bearing or influence should those who have went before us have on our lives?

Why imitate the leader?

It is often stated amongst the enlightened believers of the 21st century, that we have a “personal” faith with the Messiah, and that He leads us in our own “personal” path. This has an element of truth to it, yet I fear this thinking allows for too much personal interpretation.

As a believer, I may be able to justify many types of behavior, feeling it is a leading of the Spirit of God. As an example, I may feel I need to lie about this one itty bitty thing in order to relieve a temptation. Surely God loves me, and this is His leading. This may reside under the “personal” leading of God justification for some believers, yet when compared with Scripture and the working out of our salvation, allows too much freedom, leading to slavery.

We need to personally witness a faithful example of walking with the Lord. A leader who speaks the Word of God is the choice of the apostle for the believer to come alongside. Time with this type of believer allowing for the witness of the working out of the glory of God in a sinful earthling, is of great benefit.

Now I would caution you, that when I speak of a leader who speaks the Word of God, this does not, in my mind at least, require a paid professional church employee. If you have a close relationship with a pastor, reverend, deacon or such, good on you. But this may be a condition many of us may not have available.

Why does the author remind us of the type of leader to imitate?

He speaks of the leader who spoke the Word of God. As mentioned above, the leader needs to be one who relies on the Word of God for direction in his own life and speaks of the Word of God to others.

A teacher who speaks of his opinion as if from God, but without the foundation of the written Word of God, is to be avoided. Run away from this one.

Why is the believer exhorted to consider the outcome of this leader?

This is where the rubber meets the road, my friends.

The leaders who spoke the Word of God, revealing the Lord Jesus to an apostate nation, came under persecution from their own countrymen. The Hebrew believers were being tempted to fall back into a dead religion, destined for extinction, and to abandon the Lord Jesus for a sacrificial religion that became blasphemous before God.

This departure from the true God has been addressed throughout the book. Even within this passage, although not directly, the author continues to seek every opportunity to guide the believer into experiencing true faith. A faith that is not simply internal, but also an objective experience that may be measured by others witness, and therefore gauge his own growth and maturity.

Fellow believers provide this challenge! Don’t refuse it, but take advantage of this opportunity to learn of real life faith from those who are a bit further down the road than yourself.

As a caution, do not hear me in saying that we are in competition with one another in our experience with the Master, as we do have various callings, yet the moral temperature of our walk requires challenging, especially when pressure bears upon us to “look the other way”.

Look unto Jesus for leading, and as His apostle has exhorted us in this passage, to those who have went before us. He is good, in giving us so many opportunities to experience His life with others.


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Bible · Christian Security · Conditional Security · Doctrinal · Interpretation · OSAS

Conditional Security – Romans 2:7

As a young believer, I spent an unbalanced amount of time in the book of Romans, trying to follow Paul’s logic, and the message he was presenting to the church in Rome. Some passages seemed to be fairly simple to grasp, with others still beyond me. Don’t even ask me about Romans 5 – the more I read that passage, the less I know!

Given the strong message Paul supplies in Romans 3 concerning the requirement of faith and not works for salvation, how can we understand our topic verse today?

First off, lets read it.

to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; – Romans 2:7 ESV

First, some background.

I am of the opinion that Paul was crouching his remarks in these early chapters of Romans, providing theological teaching with an intent to address a practical problem within this church.

Now before we go any further, if I were to ask you of the problem resident in the Roman church, what would you say? Was there heresy floating about? Some type of false doctrine infecting this body of believers?

Maybe.

But as we travel through the book of Romans, we find Paul gives his “pièce de résistance”, his crowning jewel setting forth a theological masterpiece, to a church at Rome.

Out of sixteen chapters, three quarters of the book is positional teaching. Chapters 12 through 16 are practical teaching with the following topics

  • Chapter 12 – rapid fire list of Christian commands,
  • Chapter 13 – the believers relationship with government (fitting for believers in the capital!)
  • Chapter 14 – a discussion on strength and weakness in faith
  • Chapter 15 – a continuation of the discussion on strength and weakness in faith
  • Chapter 16 – personal greetings to the saints in the church.

Given the amount of space Paul uses for a discussion on strength and weakness in faith, it appears there is an element of disunity fueled by pride within the body. I would suggest that those of the Jewish faith may be holding their religious heritage over their gentile brothers, and causing strife in the body.

As long an introduction to this post is, it is important to consider a possible context we find Romans 2:7. I understand Romans 1 & 2 to be Paul’s mimicking of Nathan’s methods of when he dealt with a sinning King David. (For a fuller discussion on this topic, I recommend Judge Judge Judge – δικαιοκρισία –Study 7)

If my thinking is correct about what Paul has in mind in Romans 2, he is aiming to get a mental agreement of the Jewish believers regarding the wickedness of the subjects of chapter 1, all the while setting the Jewish believers up for self identification as the sinners. (The Nathan method! – See link to earlier post for explanation.)

Given this background, how does Romans 2:7 relate to conditional security? Is Paul simply baiting the Jewish believer, teaching the sinfulness of those described in chapter 1 and then identifying the sinners as Jewish? When Paul speaks of those who “knew no law” being able to attain salvation, how would this have impacted the Jewish believer who has “obeyed the law” their entire life? (And to add a wrinkle to this convoluted thinking, if the Jewish believer had obeyed the law, why did they repent and run to Jesus for salvation! But I digress.)

Context is king here and the previous verse to our text may provide some guidance.

He will render to each one according to his works: – Romans 2:6
to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; – Romans 2:7
but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. – Romans 2:8

Paul is speaking of God rendering judgement according to each ones works. The outcome of judgement, based on the well-doing of the subject, is that God will provide eternal life. What? It seems so strange to think of any judgement as resulting in eternal life. When I hear the word “judgement”, I automatically think of fire and brimstone! But that is a different topic for another day.

Granted, the link between works and eternal life is difficult to deal with. I think the reason this linkage between eternal life and works is difficult to deal with is that it impacts our daily decisions to live for Him. Some may say that it is at odds with the salvation by grace through faith teaching that permeates the Word, but I believe there is a solution.

Let me summarize my questions about this passage, with a challenge for my reader.

When we come to judgement for the believer, it is common to have works associated with judgement. As this post is getting a bit long, and if it has peaked my readers interest, I will recommend a study in the Word on the relationship between works and judgement for the believer. I did a search in Blue Letter Bible for “works” and considered the verses that came up. It may be surprising to the reader of their findings!

But kindly note that the suggested topic of study is “works and judgement”, not “works and justification”. Two different studies! (A bit of a hint there, my friends!)

In all of this discussion, it is of primary importance to remember the main thing, that as believers, we are to be patient in well doing, not giving up and to be faithful in what He has called us to.

May God bless you and keep you in serving Him.


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Bible · Christian Security · Conditional Security · Doctrinal · Interpretation · OSAS

Conditional Security – John 13:8-11

John 13:8

Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” 

As I read the Word, and find passages that may lend themselves to the teaching of a conditional security, I shall offer up the verse or set of verses. Some, as our passage for today is an example, I previously did not consider a challenge to the OSAS (once saved always saved) position. But it does pose a bit of a challenge.

You see, the purpose of this series is not to prove any particular teaching but to provide challenges to a conventional thinking, to stir up a possible complacency, to allow for discussion (if only in your own thoughts), and to request an honest consideration of viable perspectives of Biblical teaching.

The passage above, as I understood it during my OSAS days, simply defined the fellowship condition of the believer in the daily washing of the believers sins through confession and repentance. Nothing to be related to security of salvation – a fellowship teaching only. To be quite honest, I still tend to this understanding.

Yet I wonder …..

In this passage, Jesus tries to help Peter understand the reason for His act of humility. Lets walk through John 13:10-11 to consider what is going on.

Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. – John 13:10

OK – So you don’t need to wash if you have bathed. Got it.

Let’s dig a bit, and consider this particular word, bathed.

When the Lord spoke of the one who has bathed, He used the word λούω, Strong’s # G3068. This specific word is used six times in the New Testament in the following passages along with John 13:10.

  • Acts 16:33 – a washing to cleanse from the blood of wounds
  • Acts 9:37 – a washing of a dead person
  • Hebrews 10:22 – referring to “our bodies” being washed with pure water
  • 2 Peter 2:22 – a sow being washed, yet returning to wallowing in mire
  • Revelation 1:5 – washed us from our sins in his own blood,

Each instance speaks of a whole body washing, or bathing, except possibly Acts 16:33. As an aside, this verse may also include the idea of whole body washing, implying the wounds were extensive, and the associated blood effectively covered the body.

With this quick study, I find nothing that contradicts my original understanding that Jesus is comparing our relationship in Him as being compared with a full body cleansing that needs not repeating, unlike a foot washing during the day which may be repeated.

And you are clean, but not every one of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.” – John 13:11

This is the verse that has given me some pause, primarily due to my struggling to identify each “you” in the passage. Let’s see if we can get some traction on this verse, by identifying each time the word “you” is used.

  • You are clean”
    • Is Jesus referring to an individual (i.e. Peter) or to the group (i.e. the disciples). Seems this “you” is Peter, but it could be argued that the you is the plural, as in y’all, or even all y’all. (See Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus – Jesus Heals and Officials Son, under the heading “What was the message for the original audience?” for a wee explanation my understanding of y’all and all y’all)
  • “Not everyone of you
    • Is Jesus referring to the group at this point? Is this obvious?
  • Who was to betray Him”
    • An individual within the group – the betrayal of Judas is introduced, that the disciples were oblivious to at the time.
  • “Not all of you are clean”
    • Explanation of this last clause in verse 10, where it seems Judas is being referred to as the exception. I don’t see Jesus referring to parts (the feet?) of each of the disciples. This is how I understand Jesus when initially referring to Peter in verse 8.

No Share with Him

A final thought on this passage is that as Jesus taught Peter and the rest of the disciples, He refers to “you” (Peter) as having “no share with Him” in verse 8. This is another area where I somewhat struggle with the passage.

Let me try to explain.

The Greek word used for “share” is μέρος, Strong’s # 3313, and is used over 40 times in the New Testament. I will leave it to my readers to search this out on their own if of interest, as this post is becoming longer than intended. Nevertheless, let me start you off with one verse that may be of assistance.

Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years. – Rev 20:6

As my readers search this out, it is important to remember that the word “share” is a noun, and does not carry with it any specific association. By that I mean, simply that when the word “share” is used, it does not have to refer to final salvation, but I find it interesting that at times it does.

As always, thanks for considering this difficult series, and for your encouragement as you read each post.


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