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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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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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Conditional Security – Matthew 6:23

but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! – Mat 6:23 ESV

Security

Is the security of the believer simply a theological construct?  Is there something more to the message of the Bible than just a head knowledge of security? Have I ever used a proof text to convince myself everything is good, when it seems everything in my character yells against that inner voice?

I think the Lord may have been addressing this very concern when He gave us the verse we are looking at this fine day.

Jesus is referring to a person who has “light in them”.  But He calls it darkness! And what does it mean “if thine eye is evil”?  The ESV translates it as “eye is bad”, but I grew up in the KJV, and the phrase “eye is evil” clicked in my reading of the Old Testament one day. I assumed to have an evil eye was to be of a murderous intent, entertaining wicked thoughts or evil schemes?  I never really understood this verse until…

Deuteronomy 15:9 King James Version (KJV)

9 Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart, saying, The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand; and thine eye be evil against thy poor brother, and thou givest him nought; and he cry unto the Lord against thee, and it be sin unto thee.

According to usage in Deuteronomy 15:9, that to have an evil eye is synonymous with selfishness and greed, even that of a lack of compassion to a brother.

If this is the spirit of my life, that is, of being uncompassionate to a brother in need, the Lord states that the light I think I have is simply darkness. And the self-delusion of being full of light while darkness resides, completes the “fullness of darkness”. Nothing worse than self-delusion, and that is why it is so critical to check our life against standards that are measurable, and not simply a subjective, “feel good” standard.

Compassion is a characteristic of Christianity. Without compassion, we show ourselves to not be the people we think we are. Not a very secure place!

That is unless you have convinced yourself otherwise.


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Conditional Security – John 10:28-29

A dear brother has been teaching me in Sunday School class and occasionally will ask my opinion on certain Bible topics.

One Sunday morning, he asked me if I believed in eternal security. I confessed that for most of my Christian life I was a die hard adherent to the “Once Saved, Always Saved” (OSAS) doctrine, but a few years ago, began to consider the conditional security teaching.

He told me I should read the Bible and referred me to John 10:28-29.

John 10:28-29

I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. – John 10:28-29

I began to respond but he simply moved onto another topic, as if stating a set of verses settled the question without any doubt.

I fully understand this reaction since it is sufficient to answer any questions when dwelling in an echo chamber. When surrounded by those who think alike, and have the same doctrinal beliefs, debate is not a practiced art. Merely stating a verse number, a chapter in a Bible book, or even to reference a Bible book settles the question for many.

But lets consider what the passage is trying to teach us in relation to eternal security. The entire paragraph from John 10 is below.

Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” – John 10:25-30

The set of verses above have Jesus defining who His sheep are. Verse 26 is instructive, defining the reason for unbelief.

Those who do not believe are not His sheep.

Characteristics of His sheep

Jesus then goes on to define the characteristics of His sheep

  1. The sheep hear his voice
  2. He knows His sheep
  3. His sheep follow Him

The sheep in this verse “hear” and “follow”. Let’s look a little to see if these word can instruct us further.

His sheep hear His voice

The word “hear” is the greek word ἀκούω akoúō, and is in the present tense. This simply means the hearing is occurring “presently”. When Jesus said this portion of Scripture, the sheep were hearing him, listening to him, learning from Him.

He knows His sheep

At first I was tempted to leave this clause out of the study, simply because it seemed to be an action performed by the Master and not the sheep, and I am trying to identify the sheep in this blog. I won’t dwell much on this clause other than to direct you to another blog I recently posted on “knowing” Inherit the Kingdom? Who Knew. Jesus uses the Greek word “ginosko” here – Consider if it implies any effort on the part of the sheep.

His sheep follow Him

The term “follow” is the greek word ἀκολουθέω akolouthéō, and is also in the present tense. Again, when Jesus gave this teaching, His sheep were presently following him, had joined Him as a disciple.

So what’s the point here Carl – This seems like a lot of work to define the obvious!

Well, when I was an adherent of OSAS, my understanding of the passage was….

My sheep heard my voice in the past, and I knew them in a contractual way , and they followed me at least for a period of time.

As an adherent of OSAS, I understood that if I made a decision for Christ 38 yrs ago, that sealed my fate. Nothing would hold me back from my future eternal life with God. Of course, the matter of obedience was addressed in the OSAS teaching, but it was simply a matter of a loss of rewards when it came to sin in my life.

But Jesus here is defining the sheep that He is giving eternal life to as active participants in the life He was sharing. No where does He refer to any past decisions or acts of faith.

OK Carl, but it is eternal life He is giving them. Once given, it is eternal!

Let’s think about that statement.

The word eternal, generally defined, is to be without beginning or ending. Giving me eternal life on Feb 20th, 1981 did not initiate eternal life! The life that is eternal is without time! What my faith on that night accomplished, was that I began to possess eternal life based on my faith in the Master. (Think about that – the difference is kinda massive!)

I heard the voice and decided to follow. I became His sheep. When was the last time you heard the voice of Jesus?

Pluck

I can hear you out there telling me all that is well and good, but Jesus said that no one was going to pluck the sheep from His hand or the Fathers hand.

Pluck. What a funny word when you say it 20 times fast!

This word is a favorite of the rapture folks. “Pluck” in John 10 is the greek word ἁρπάζω  harpázō, to seize (in various applications):—catch (away, up), pluck, pull, take (by force).

Another Greek dictionary defines harpázō – seize by force; snatch up, suddenly and decisively – like someone seizing bounty (spoil, a prize); to take by an open display of force (i.e. not covertly or secretly)

Many believers will recognize harpázō as the greek word defining the rapture of believers at the second coming of the Messiah.

Notice this word is used once more in this passage.

No Man is able to Pluck

At risk of repeating myself, pluck is synonymous with “seize by force”, or “an open display of force”. No man is able to take a believer out of the hands of God by force.

During the Christian era, men have found it impossible to get true believers to renounce or deny the Master. During the first 300 years of the church, Christian blood flowed freely. So much so that the term martyr simply came to mean witness.

But free will is available to all, and true love requires the exercise of each believers free will. Men can’t take believers out of the hand of Jesus, but does this passage teach that believers cannot decide to move on to other interests?

Where are you in following the Master?


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Conditional Security – John 6:66-71

After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.” He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was going to betray him. – John 6:66-71 ESV

Consistency of the Eternal Security Teaching

A passage like the one referred to above gave me heartache as an adherent of the eternal security doctrine. Usually, when I came to a passage such as this, I simply ignored the implications of the text, or even worse, ignored the text.

But when I did read the passage, and tried to explain it to myself or others, I would attempt to differentiate between two groups within the passage.

(Now that I have started to see the consistency of the conditional security teaching within the Scriptures, this problem has lessened considerably.)

A common method I used to explain the passage went something like this.

The “disciples” that turned away were merely professors, whereas the apostles (the twelve) were “real Christians”.

The only problem is that a “real Christian”, by my previous explanations, ends up denying Jesus.  And another one betrays Jesus.  And both Peter and Judas were connected with Satan/devil at one time in the ministry of the Lord.

OK, so then I really should have considered an entirely separate special subgroup of believer/professors. Or maybe Peter was never really saved before his denial. And Judas – well – he is a study all on his own. But no matter how often I tried to understand this conundrum, I couldn’t make it fit in the once saved only saved thinking. Things just got fuzzier. So I just decided it was a mystery that wasn’t meant to be understood.

Or maybe, there is such a thing as conditional security.

What think ye? Let me know with a comment below.

Blessings  


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Conditional Security – Matthew 5:13

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. – Matthew 5:13

The Lord is describing a characteristic of His disciples.  The metaphor Jesus uses this time is to describe His disciples as  “salt”.  During Jesus ministry, He spoke some very difficult and hard sayings.  Out of all His hard sayings, I would definitely include the one we are looking at tonight.

One thing that bothered me (very much), prior to my allowing this verse to say what it says, is the idea of salt becoming saltless.  To be salt is to be salt, right?  And one of salt’s chief characteristic is its savour.  Without savour, it is useless, good for nothing, and worthy of being cast out.

How does this relate to the disciple?  A disciple who isn’t constantly learning (remember – to be a disciple is to be a learner!) has lost his savour (is not in the process of learning.)  A disciple isn’t a disciple without being in the process of learning and following.

Security in Being “Cast Out”?

I don’t understand how salt can become saltless.  I seem to think that the principle message is to maintain the status of the disciple.  A believer who “settles” is in danger of drifting away.

One thing I am sure of is that terms like “good for nothing”, “cast out” and to be “trodden under foot of men” do not engender a feeling of security.  

For a man or woman who is salt, to become one who was salt, is a terrifying concept, according to the verse above.

Continue to follow and learn. He is calling you.


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

Conditional Security – Matthew 7:16-19

You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. – Matthew 7:16-19 ESV

Security

Is there a relationship between the works/fruits of a person and their destiny? If there is, could a sense of security be a fruit from a life well lived? A life that is meek, humble, gracious, giving, self-sacrificing, loving, faithful, patient…. A life that reflects the Master’s character?

A couple of points in my mind come to the surface.

The Lord states:

  • A good tree gives good fruit.
  • A good tree does not give corrupt fruit.
  • A corrupt tree gives evil fruit.
  • A corrupt tree does not give good fruit.

If the fruit is good, the tree is good. Trees that do not bring forth good fruit are cut down due to their fruit bearing ability.

Trees are not judged on the quality of their sap, or the strength of their trunk, the amount of leaves they produce or the depth of their roots, the quality of the wood they are made of, or the height of their branches! If the fruit is not good, the wood is simply burned up.

Is it possible for a believer to produce consistent, continually bad fruit? Is the fruit bearing of a believer, a proof of the life we claim we have? Is fruit a conditional aspect of our Christian lives, ie, a result of obedience to the Master?

Security In a Believers life

If so, could a sense of security be in direct relation to the fruit/works produced in a believers life?

(Huh?  Where am I going wrong here?)

Security – that state of being free from danger or threat, if experienced throughout a believer’s life, brings about the ultimate security that is real (and not merely theoretical).

In the midst of allowing Jesus to live through us and producing the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, self-sacrifice and humility, He rescues us in our weakness and fallenness, showing Himself strong.  But we must trust Him now, in our daily battles, to know the real security.

He is my Security.


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

Conditional Security – Romans 6:11-23

Why are you bringing this passage into the topic of conditional security Carl? This verse is obviously in the Bible for the sake of evangelism.

How often have you used Romans 6:23 in presenting the gospel to the lost, or heard someone refer to it in a gospel presentation. Romans 6:23 is a critical verse in the common “Romans Road” method of sharing the gospel.

With that background to the passage, how can the topic of conditional security become associated with it? Am I simply looking for any verse to wrap up into a conditional security teaching? I hope not – You be the judge!

Let’s consider the passage by first reading it.

So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 6:11-23

Take a look at that last verse. Yes – Romans 6:23. I will wager a penny that many of my readers have this verse committed to memory. I know I do, and have had it wobbling around in my head for close to 40 years. But many years ago, a brother by the name of Jim challenged me to consider the passage above.  He asked a very pointed question (further below) that I fought against for years.  After hearing the question, and when this passage came to mind, I simply ignored Jim’s question, it and referred to passages that seemed to support my “unconditional security” understanding of the Scriptures.

Paul is discussing the servant-hood of the believer in this passage.  It is commonly accepted that by this time in the epistle, he has laid the foundation of the gospel and is dealing with the present condition and sanctification of the believer.

What was the question Jim asked?

“Why did Paul mention death in verse 23 of this passage?”

It can not simply refer to physical death, can it?  Notice that Paul begins to conclude his thoughts on service to God by defining the fruit of our service (unto holiness) and the end being everlasting life.  All through the passage, Paul is referring to believers and suddenly brings the topic of death into the mix.

Why?

The thing that really confused me, even as a young believer, was that as evangelicals, we use verse 23 to evangelize the lost, which is in the middle of an extended teaching on the Christians responsibility to serve God.

The question above was put to me over 25 years ago, but God is faithful and in my many wanderings and detours, some things just kept hanging on in my mind. The idea that death is an option by way of choice for the believer is a fearful thought, and yet I sense an authority I welcome and a growing respect that I have lacked far too long towards Him.

As always, your thoughts on this passage are always welcome.


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