Salvation, what exactly is it?

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The following article is an excerpt from my upcoming book: Living Christianity, The Secondary Doctrines of Christ.

Who has not heard someone say, “I’m saved and on my way to Heaven?”   This statement, at its core, has the fundamental purpose of Salvation, but not its endpoint.  Salvation is not the end of someone’s walk with Christ – it is a believers process of sanctification [to be made faithful, holy to God] with the expectation that the believer receives the promise of Christ; Eternal Life.   The outcome of Salvation may be aptly expressed as Christ himself spoke it:

“This is eternal life, that they may know you the one true God and Jesus Christ who you have sent” [Jn.17:3]

My explanation will, no doubt, cause some reformed Protestants to label me a heretic or some such thing, so as to prop up their sectarian bias, while the Traditional as well as a whole host of independent Protestant churches will agree with me.

God willing, I will try my best to apply common sense wisdom of grace, and the revealed Word of God to this teaching, and not rely on intellectual philosophies that portent to know every thought of God.  I will try to succinctly explain the Biblical Theological arguments and history of the basis of modern views of Salvation, and the periphery themes of Predestination, and Election – making this study as succinct as possible.

Christians, especially conservative and Reformed Evangelical Protestants, have misappropriated the terms, “saved” and “salvation” – “predestination” and “election” making them the end point of all that Believers need to do. This is erroneous and can cause a Believer to misunderstand the calling of God – making him or her susceptible to another Gospel, and another Lord. This “ultra-reformed” view of Soteriology [study of salvation] hinges upon the work of the Protestant reformer John Calvin [1509-1564AD], who reinterpreted the arguments of Augustine [354-420AD] against the monk Pelagius [360-420AD], rejected the work of Thomas Aquinas, and formed the Reformed concepts of God’s sovereignty, predestination, and election to his hideous conclusion; the “Decretum Absolutum,” also known as “Decretum horrible” or the “Dread Decree.”  In essence, the Decretum states that God arbitrarily sends most to Hell and a few to Heaven just to prove he is in charge.

It used to be that denominations would preach; “Repent and ask forgiveness in Jesus name,” followed by an intense briefing about the Primary Doctrines of Christianity [what a believer must understand about God, his Son, repentance, forgiveness, baptism, etc.]  In the years prior to WWII, this primary information was called Catechism, Christian doctrine, Profession of Faith, or Bible School.  Now however, we hear, “All you need do is come to Jesus,” with no reference to repentance, baptism, or walking in the ways of Christ.

This new way of doing things is an Apostasy, and will lead many astray and into the belief that they are on their way to heaven, but they have taken the “wide road to destruction.”   The way of Christ is narrow and straight, and is exclusive, not inclusive [Mt.7:14].

Of a truth; many who think that they have Christ, do not, but instead have a Jesus made in the image of the corporate world – a year round Macy’s Santa Clause, who winks at sin and is willing that all should come to heaven regardless of their behavior.  This is exactly why the Apostle Paul wrote:

“Examine yourselves to see if you are in the Faith; test yourselves.  Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you – unless of course, you fail the test? [2Cor.13:5]

This outcome is based squarely on the results of Ultra Calvinism that teaches, once a man has believed in Christ and made some formal confession, he needs do nothing more than relax in the unmerited grace of God.  The fact that an individual called on Jesus proves he was predetermined by God, from eternity, to go to heaven; and those that never heard the gospel were predetermined to go to Hell.  What more does an unregenerate man need than an excuse, to find easy salvation in the face of his self-will and rebellion to God?  Confess Jesus and once saved always saved!

However, the question arises from Paul’s challenge in 2Cor.13:5, what is the test?  The answer; do we walk as Christ walked?  Do we listen to what he said and what the Apostles wrote, or are we listening to every fad, and indulging the flesh, because everyone else is doing it.

By way of reminder, Jesus was poor.  He relied on his Father for all his needs.  His twelve and the other seventy-two [Lk.10:1] apostles, and the original Jerusalem church members were poor.  This was accredited by Ac.2:45; 4:32-35, where it states that the new disciples sold whatever possessions they had and gave them to the fellowship.  They were in need of the cash.  Similarly, Paul testifies to the poverty and generosity of the Macedonian churches, who gave beyond their ability to help support the work of the Apostle Paul [2Cor.8:1-5].

Many, if not most, American church bodies operate on  the idea that poverty displays a Christian’s lack of success [another ultra-Calvinistic view]; even when the Bible states that God chooses the poor of this world for eternal life [Jas.2:5].   The fact is, in America, the more one speaks about Christ, the Bible and living for God, the more that person will find himself without a job.

I have experienced this first hand.  Living for Jesus generally brings about poverty, in a world hostile to the Gospel.  And may I reflect that the Calvinist Baptist I worked with, who was an excellent worker but never opened his mouth about Christ, chided me as being a shameful example of a Christian, because I wasted company time evangelizing the lost at my place of work –or so he judged it.  My immediate supervisor and department director, however, granted me solid approvals on my efficiency and dedication to service – and applied pressure on the company to reward me according to formal corporation rules – for ideas I presented, which saved hundreds of thousands of dollars.  The company relented and paid me a stipend of about $150.  The company eventually fired my supervisor and director for not firing me.  In the end, I was only laid-off, and not fired, for fear of invoking a religious suit.  So there you have it in a nutshell; salvation by Calvin or salvation by obedience in Christ.  One method keeps your job, and the other method ends it!  But who was faithful to Christ?

To counter this trouble of poverty and unpopularity, American churches have built a business structured middle-class – that claims its Christian heritage is proved by its material success – not upon the attributes of love, charity, forbearance, forgiveness and humility.  The way of prosperity, name-it and claim-it, material and personality success, is the wide road to destruction, regardless of the numbers and amounts of church offerings and verbal boasts made by a Christian

It was Jesus, who said,

“Woe to you who are rich…well fed…who laugh…when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers [worldly people] treated the false prophets” [Lk.6:24-26].

I am not justifying poverty as a primer for Salvation. However, I am following the words of Jesus, James, John and Paul, who taught that friends with the world may quickly fetch up accolades and cash, but it will be followed by demands that insult God, and reduce your conscience to mere ever changing ethics, and your reputation to a purchasable commodity.  [Mk.8:36; Jm.2:6-7; 1Jn.2:15-17; Tit.2:11-14]

The world confers praise and awards upon men and women who would seduce the House of God.  If you think clearly at this point, call to mind the mega-church pastors who are doted over by the secular news media, and the pastors they ignore or criticize. Some of the Mega- Church Pastors are members of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), and are now introducing with other pastors a watered down Christ who accepts homosexuality and Islam.  They call this the “New Calvinism.”    Consider who has received Nobel Peace prizes for doing nothing more than promoting a few basic tenets of the United Nations.  All one need do is talk the talk and put off the walk.

About ten to fifteen years ago there was a media campaign in industry that promoted the New Order over and against the Moral Order.  The campaign slogan was: “Are You a Three in a Six World?”

If your life’s focus is on a “Six” world – attentive to receiving accolades from the world round about you – regardless of your privately spoken affection for Christ – you are on the wide road to destruction.

God does not condemn monetary or popularity success – he will at times grant that to some believers for his own purposes.  There is nothing wrong with improving one’s education, social status, and physical prowess, BUT are these the motivating factors to prove you are in Christ?  This is the test!  If they are the motivating factors for Christian development, then you are on the wide road to destruction.

In a nut shell, true salvation is a process of shedding the delights of the existing Order of Society, and looking forward to the Order of Society God will develop in Christ Jesus.  This is what sanctification accomplishes.

Salvation is a process that should lead us to our hope of Eternal Life.  Salvation begins by a person accepting the realization that he or she has their own sinful ways of doing things – things that God does not approve of.  Second; the person must repent – which means he is willing to forsake his old world view.  Third; the person accepts Jesus Christ’s Lordship and direction for his life.  Fourth; the believer is willing to make major changes in his life that are not acceptable to the broad culture.  Fifth; the believer is willing to study the word of God and attend regularly at a Congregation of fellow believers.  Sixth; the believer is willing and able to promote Jesus Christ and his Gospel.  In short, the sanctifying part of Salvation causes the believer some mental consternation, prayer, time, money and work – all of which are ordered by God.

As well, there are other responsibilities to be accepted, as a believer grows in the grace [unmerited favor] of God – personal and corporate.  This is the beginning of salvation.

As I said, Salvation is a process, one that never stops.  A Christian does not say, “I’ve done enough and my ticket is set in stone for heaven.”  No, the process continues until one naturally dies, or is taken away in the event called the Blessed Hope [Titus 2:13] – also referred to by a Latin designation, “the Rapture.”   I know of no other person who was able to say as the Apostle Paul said, “…I bear in my body the marks of Christ” [Gal.6:17], and “I have fought the good fight I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award me on that day.”  [2Tim:7-8].  Paul could say this with impunity, because Jesus Christ appeared before Paul, in his prison cell [2Tim.4:17] to assure Paul that his work in God [Eph.2:9-10] was over.  The point; unless Jesus Christ has appeared to you bodily and stated this same assurance, you still have a hope to strive after.  The Bible calls this the Hope of Salvation [1Thes.5:8].

And what is the Hope?  I will write of this more extensively in the last chapter, but we need to lay the groundwork in Greek as to what salvation is.

Defining the Process:

The Greek word for salvation is ‘sorteria,’ a noun, and means; deliverance, preservation and salvation, from material, temporal, spiritual danger and suffering  We get the modern academic word Soteriology from this Greek word, and so it is the study of salvation..  The word save(d), is ‘sozo,’ and is a verb in the Greek.  It means to make or keep sound or safe. 

If a believer is delivered; from what is he delivered from?  Similarly, what is he delivered to?  The basic answer is known intuitively – we are delivered form the bondage [the slavery] of sin [Gal.4:9; 5:1] and delivered to servant-hood in Christ [Jn.12:26; Rom.6:19], and kept for that day [2Thes.3:3; 2Tim1:12; Jude 24] when the dead in Christ will rise [Col.2:11-12].

Just as Israel was saved (delivered) from bondage in Egypt, so is the Christian believer is saved (delivered) form his bondage in sin.  Similarly, as Israel was saved (delivered) for planting in the Promise Land, so is the believer in Christ saved (delivered) for planting in the Church.  As Israel was saved (delivered) under a covenant of obedience to the Ceremonial and Moral Law, so the Church was saved (delivered) under the covenant in Christ’s blood for obedience to the yoke of Christ [Mt.11:29].  Whether it is Israel or the Church, God presents his plan of salvation [deliverance] as a place of training, under a code of obedience, through faith.

One can plainly see that the place of training in the New Testament is the Church.  A Christian is supposed to be nurtured within the church and then sent out into the world to testify of Christ – through word and deed.  This is where the believer is tested and refined, because he is in training.

Now training implies a completion and graduation. In order to receive the graduation diploma, one must complete the training.  If a believer does not complete the training he makes himself ineligible for the diploma, and fails to receive the prize he was intended to receive.   In our case of study, the diploma is Eternal Life – to be explained in the last chapter.

Everyone on the face of the earth is capable of believing and of finishing the training, because God has said so, in his word [Gen.4:6-7; Deut.30:19; Prov.8:10-11; Rom.10:8].  Christ died for the sins of the whole world [Jn.3:16], not just for a few select individuals.  Further, to as many receive Christ and believe in his name he gave the right to become his children [Jn.1:12], and he tells us that he is longsuffering – not willing that any should perish [2Pe.3:9].

The training of Salvation has a few basic rules: reading, listening and obedience to the revealed Word of God.  The training stops when we have completed God’s direction for our lives, and conformed to the image of Christ.  Some men conform better – some less – but it is the Father who makes the decision as to the accepted end result.

Those that stop their training and refuse to grow are culled from the program – so said Christ Jesus, in John’s Gospel;

“I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that bears fruit he prunes, so that it will be even more fruitful” [Jn.15:1-2]

Note that Jesus said that the Father will cut away believers who do not bear fruit.  In Jn.15:5-6, Jesus metaphorically explains what happens to a branch that is culled or cut off – it dries up and dies, and then is cast into the fire!  Paul reiterates this same explanation in Rom.11:11-24.

To reiterate, Salvation is a training ground.  Anyone can attend, if they so desire – by believing and meeting the initial requirements of repentance, confession, forgiveness, and belief in Jesus as the Son of God – who has the power to get us into his training camp.

That power to gain our entrance into the camp, or as Jesus explained through the gate [Jn.10:9], is bound in the statement that “Christ saves to the “uttermost,” and is the word ‘panteles’ in the Greek, which means: “perfect” or “complete” – a reference to Heb.7:24.

Note on Heb.7:24:

This verse is a favorite of the, “once-saved always-saved” believers.  However, they do not quote this accurately.  Their use of it follows like this: “Since I accepted Christ, I can never loose or forfeit my salvation, because Christ saved me to the uttermost.”

What they are professing is that because Christ saved them they are guaranteed eternal life already, because when Jesus saves he does the work completely.  A person has no effect on the outcome at all.

This of course is patently erroneous because they claim something not said in this verse and they ignore the context of the verse and the disclaimer articulated with in the verse.

Let us look at the verse in the KJV and in the original Greek.

“Wherefore, he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” [Heb.7:25 KJV]

 

“Whence indeed   to save   to=entirely   the entire   he is able   the [ones] approaching   through   him   to God, always   living   for   the  to intercede  on behalf of  them.”  [Literal Received Text – Heb.7:25]

Firstly, the context is the work of Jesus Christ as a priest like Mechizedek.  The offering of himself is better than the offerings of the Levirate Priesthood, because he only needed to do it once.  This is his work not yours.  Your work is found in: Lk.9:23, Rom.12:1-2, Eph.2:10, Jn.1:12, 1Jn1:9, 2Pe.1:5-11 – and includes: Taking up God’s specific work, every day; physical service; works for God, decreed by God for us;  belief and reception of all things Christ; daily confession of sins; and putting effort into growing in the faith to produce fruit.

Secondly, as the Levirate Priests were approached for intercession [entreating a favor] to and from God, Christ will do this even better, because he on line 24/7, 365 days a year, and found in every place at a moment’s notice.

Thirdly, the scripture states directly, those that “approach him,” not “those that wait for him to pick up their slack.”  This is concretely understood in John’s Epistle as: “If we confess our sins [and we do sin every day] he is faithful and just to forgive us our sin…” [1Jn.1:9]

In the original received text for 1Jn.1:9 it states that we approach him to confess – “…in order that he may forgive us the sins…”  [Nestle-Marshal received text].  Therefore the antithesis is inferred – if we do not approach and confess, he will not be able to forgive the sins!  This makes the forgiveness conditional, not unconditional.  The condition is our repentance and an active participation in approaching and confessing.  This works the same with needed spiritual and material requests.  Man has an active part in is Salvation Sanctification [training].  Without the training the believer will not attain graduation.  No one receives Eternal Life and redemption as sons, unless they are sanctified by the process of Salvation’s training.

This same doctrine of our expected activity in approaching and asking God, for favors, is also found in Jn.1:12.  To the ones that believe in Christ name – those that make the effort to receive him as Lord – he gave the right to become, through salvation and sanctification, the sons of God [2Pe.1:5-11].  It does NOT say; to those who outwardly lean upon the work of Christ, and make no effort to conform to his desires.

It is clear; Jesus is NOT ‘ever interceding’ for the person who believes they need do nothing, ever again.

As believers, we talk affirmatively in terms of having son-ship, because we have entered training for adoption as Sons, even as one enters a school like West Point. When a person enters West Point, he enters as a plebe.  The West Point plebe is afforded all the courtesy of an officer with expectation that he will graduate.  Yet, unless he graduates, by completing his training, he will not receive his gold bar, and a United States Congressional commission, as an officer.

Jesus has training based upon quality of obedience.  It is not about speed, or expediency.  Everyone can take as much time as they need to complete a command of the lord, as long as they are putting effort into it.  If a Christian refuses a command, Jesus will not plead with him.  Just like the father of Lk.15:11-32, he long-suffers, waiting for his lost son to come to his senses – yet he did not go after him.   Jesus Christ’s response will be to wait for your compliance.  If the believer refuses, the believer will have sinned.  The Holy Spirit will bring to mind the words of Christ [Jn.16:13-14] and convict of Sin and righteousness and the Judgment to come [Jn.16:8].   If the believer realizes his error, he can ask for forgiveness and resume training [1Jn.1:9].

The longer a believer refuses to comply, the harder it is to repent, because when he leaves training, he eats at the table of the farm animals [Lk.15:16], and grows spiritually weaker for lack of a proper diet.  What shall be his end?  Shall it not be starvation and death?

Expanding the Understanding of Salvation:

This concept can be understood scripturally by referencing St. Paul in context with Christ’s statement in Matthew.  The same word saved [sozo] is used in both scriptures.  Again this word means, to make or keep sound or safe. The focus is on Jews, Gentiles, and all who would call on Christ, with the literal Greek using an emphatic doubled pronoun, “everyone, for whoever”

“For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile – the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’” [Rom.10:12-13]

 

“All men will hate you, because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved [Mt.10:22; Mk.13:13]

The original Greek from the received text of Mt.10:22 and Mk.13:13 are virtually identical, as follows:

“and ye will be being hated by all men on account of the name of me, but the [one] enduring to [the] end, this will be saved.”

I gave the reader the original Greek so as to evaluate that there was no sectarian bias.   It plainly states that men will hate Christians because of the name of Jesus Christ.  This infers persecution.  The persecution implies that that some believers may fall away as is stated by Christ in Mt.24:10, and by its reuse in Mt.26:31.  The reason for falling away is expressed by the word “offended” [Gk., skandalizo].  This word means, “to cause to stumble.”  We received our modern word, ‘scandal’ from this Greek word.

“And then many will be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another” [Mt.24:10, KJV]

It is notable today that many are offended at the name of Jesus, but the “offended” mentioned in this scripture are not the unbelievers, but confessing Christians, who are re-evaluating their position in Christ, much like those in the Book of Hebrews.   They will judge many aspects of Christ’s teaching to be scandalous in the eyes of the world.

The reprobates are already at the door reversing five thousand years of morality.  Sodomy is judged worthy of human activity, and so is marrying two men, or two women, or a man to a sheep, or an avatar.  Recently, the Commonwealth of Nations put major pressure on Russia’s hosting of the 2014 Olympics – demanding Russian conformity to the new sexuality.  A historical review of world pagan activities will reveal that sex with children, sodomy, and bestiality, and as well cross dressing, were common among the ancients.  Even the Native North American tribes, as researched and reported, by early Mennonite missionaries regarded these peccadilloes, as simply personal choice.

Future expected scandals will be: eating meat, making a marriage covenant, refusing bio-implants, training one’s children in Biblical morality, and distain for interspecies mating.

Some of my scripture quotes are thought, by commentators and theologians, to be references for the first century Judaism, or for the Jews of the tribulation only.  However, I give a quote from Mark 13, from Jesus Christ to the reader, in context with those same quotes.

“What I say to you, I say to EVERYONE: ‘watch’” [Mk.13:37]

A similar warning was issued by Jesus in John’s Gospel;

“Remain in me and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.  Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me” [Jn.15:4]

The believer must remain in the training, or he will bear no fruit.

From this we may conclude that Salvation, is a training process called, Sanctification, which the believer must complete. Because of this process, the believer will have cause to “endure” [Gk. hupomeno] through persecution – without becoming offended.  Enduring, is faithfulness, and faithfulness is fruit.

This is why John’s Gospel states:

“Yet to all who receive him [repentance, confession, forgiveness], to those that believed in his name he gave the right to become the children [son-ship] of God…” [Jn.1:12]

We have been delivered [saved] from sin to Christ where we are in training as the adopted, to become the children of God.  If we became the Children of God at the time of our confession, we would not need to train – but the scripture does not say that we became, but have the right to become. From training, to enduring – to faithfulness – to fruit that is picked when ripe – at graduation – is the method to become the children of God.

Expanding our Understanding through Galatians:

Paul wrote that we are Sons of God by faith [Gal.3:26].  We are not sons of God by sight, or by fact.  If it was a fact that we were sons in our fullness, then it would NOT be by faith.  We would be seen by others as such.  We are plebs, just like the Officers in training at West Point – students in training, treated like officers and gentlemen – expected to complete their training – expected to graduate.

To reiterate: Salvation is the process that uses sanctification [Gk., ‘hagiasmos,’ separation to God] as the vehicle for training.  We are separated by our response to God’s requests, the pressures of the world that feed our desires, and our free will to choice to do good or evil.   What the old preachers would call: “the world, the flesh and the devil.”

Paul likened our Salvation sanctification process to a child heir who is no different than a slave in his treatment, even though the whole of the estate is technically ours.  The same is true as natural children in our earthly father’s house.  We are insignificant, without power and lacking sources of wealth, but in training to receive an inheritance that should be ours.   When Jesus came, he destroyed the law that still called us slave heirs, and made us full heirs, so that we are not treated as salves – forced into the bondage of sin keepers.

We jumped a notch, from demanding trainers and taskmasters, to child heirs that are allowed to make their own decisions, as to what God demands of each one of us.  There is no one around anymore to prevent our training and graduation.  We are not subject to men or angels, or devils telling us how to offer to God, or when to offer to God, or what to offer to God.  Hence the scripture; “…nothing can separate us from the Love of God in Christ” [Rom.8:35-39].

However, we still have freewill to take advantage of our relationship and open channel, or to ignore it. We have no more excuses to claim someone else was wrong, or we were told the wrong thing, or we followed the wrong advice etc. We have freedom in Christ to approach our Father in Heaven, through Christ, as often as we choose.  We are free to choose life, every day, some days, or no days.  The believers that choose no days turn out to be perfect examples of the lazy steward of Mt.25:24-30.

The Apostle Paul finishes this exposition in Galatians, by expressing what happens to those who wish to be lazy and ignore their freedom, by depending on weak teachers, rather than Christ, for all their spiritual needs.  So whether by actual deed or metaphorically, these believers go back to keeping special days and offerings, and are learning, “Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule, a little here, a little there” [Is.28:10], until they return to slave child heirs, and never finish their sanctification [Gal.4:1-11].

Simply put, Galatians teaches that our active freewill response is desired by God.  Jesus grants the opportunities for unmerited favors by virtue of his work at the cross.  The question is: what will we do with what we have been given.  Do we approach Christ to be saved?  Do we repent and ask forgiveness?  Do we approach our Father to find his will in our lives?  Do we worship freely everywhere at our Father’s throne, or do we ignore the grace – the opportunity to seek God and his pleasure and sit idly by, proclaiming, “I am saved. I need do nothing, because Jesus already did everything for me.  I’m just waiting around to get on the heaven bus.”

If your attitude is the; “I need do nothing,” it can be confidently said that you are on the wide road to destruction!

Expanding our Understanding through 1Corinthians 9:24-27

And finally, Paul likened our Salvation Sanctification [training] to a foot race.  He uses this simile many times in his epistles.  There are three words used in the Greek, ‘agon,’ that is translated as, race, conflict, contest and a place to assemble for Olympic or Pythian games; and there is ‘stadion,’ that means a racecourse; and ‘athlesis,’ that means combat, a contest between athletes, a struggle, a fight or to strive.

The Romans had theaters for games in every large city.  In Rome that largest was call the Coliseum, in which athletes, or combatants would confront one another for laurel leaf crowns or a wooden sword that would grant them freedom.  The Circus Maximus involved the killing of prisoners and Christians for sport.

Paul encourages Timothy to, “…fight the good faith” [1Tim.6:12].

Paul testifies that he has, “…fought the good fight, I have finished the race” [2Tim6:7]

Paul recognized that the Philippians were going through the “…same struggle…” as he [Phil.1:30].

Paul told the Colossians that he was, “…struggling for you and those at Laodicea” [Col.2:1]

Paul told the Thessalonians that he and others were bold in God, when the preached to them with, “much struggle” [1Thes.2:2]

Paul enlist this simile as an equivalent to the work of a Christian – explaining, if anyone is an athlete he does not receive the victors crown unless he competes according to the rules” [2Tim.2:5]

There are other instances found in Heb.10:32; 12:1.

However, Paul gives his best metaphor for Olympic struggle in 1Corinthians 9.

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?  Run in such a way as to get the prize.  Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.  They do it to get a crown that will not last forever.  Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air.  No, I beat my body and make it a slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize” [1Cor.9:24-27].

Note: the KJV has it: “…when I have preached to others I myself should be castaway.” the literal Greek word for ‘castaway’ is, ‘not approved,’  which is the Greek word ‘adokinos.’  Because, many commentators are Calvinists, they soften the tone of the word and translate ‘adokonis’ as ‘disqualified’ for the prize [Gk., brabeion] – where they interpret ‘prize’ as related to a crown ONLY, and not eternal life.  However, the contextual thought immediately following this verse definitely refers to Israel’s loss of favor with God, which specifies their loss of eternal life. Paul’s use of; “I do not want you to be ignorant…” in 1Cor10:1, followed by a compendium of terms and phrases associated with God’s grace and salvation, ends with God’s displeasure, Israel scattered in the desert and killed by snakes, culminates to: God was not pleased with many of them, and that they were “overthrown in the desert.”  This would contextually define Paul’s use of being “castaway” or “disapproved” as the intent, with the subject focused on Salvation.  It is my belief that Paul meant the word ‘prize’ as a metaphor, in connection with eternal life; and in specific, for the rewards and crowns given to those who work hard for God.   Eternal Life through forgiveness in Christ is NOT a prize, per say.  It is a free gift of God.  However, because Paul warns in many epistles that one may forfeit his eternal life out of lack of concern for the desires of God, or unbelief of God’s judgment attribute, the word prize may be used loosely, for eternal Life.  The point Paul was making is that the prizes should be desired. This follows the idea of one working hard in Christ, to demonstrate his love and faithfulness for what Christ has done for him.  But conversely, A LACK of love or unfaithfulness demonstrates a lazy or unconcerned steward – a pig that would trample the blood of Christ under foot.  This person would certainly be disqualified for eternal life and with that, the loss of his potential prizes. I will deal with this in the last Chapter of the book]

Hear what the Spirit says through Paul:

Those that finish first get the prize.  Run your Christian life as if we must keep the lead, far ahead of other believers.

If we are competing for the outcome of Eternal Life, we must set up a serious daily schedule for Salvation Sanctification training.

People in the world, like Olympian and professional athletes train very hard for things like public notice, medallions, and cash which will never last, so why wouldn’t we put the same training effort into something that will last forever?

Our disciplined plan will prevent our wasting time, and following unnecessary and fruitless activities.

We should always keep in mind that we could be disqualified for the final outcome, by lack of performance.

Daily introspection, a disciplined prayer life, and regular study of the scripture will help promote our spiritual skills that keep us on the narrow road – in the race to get the outcome of Salvation.

A Brief Look at the Sovereignty of God, Predestination and Election [SPE]

Introduction:

The three themes of: the Sovereignty of God, Predestination, and Election [SPE] are the doctrinal hinge pins for many Western Protestant denominations, especially those that refer to themselves as Calvinistic or Reformed.   The implications of the SPE theology are deterministic as a philosophy – especially with its world view concerning politics and banking. It has unfortunately, over the course of four hundred years to lead to a misapplication and in some cases it fostered arrogance and a lack of charity.  The opponent of this the deterministic view is “Free Will.”  Determinism is also referred to as fatalism.

Simply put, Determinism appeals to the will of God, his Natural laws and finds its scripture impetus in the theme that God chose Israel over other nations.  We shall call it fate!  The appeal is to the ever present effect of the will of God, which no one can refute or impede – therefore, the proper avenue or response for those of no rank, is to submit and accept whatever life throws at you.  Never inquire, be accepting, never compare against the revealed Word of God, and always be positive within the Social Order.  Conversely though – those that rule, they rule by God’s Sovereignty.

Deterministic thinking was prevalent in the Old World including: Israel, the Romans and the Greeks.  For pagans, when something happened that was incongruent, or implacable, the priests would read the signs of cast bones, mists, the clouds, water, and the viscera of sacrificed animals, to understand the displeasure of the gods.  In the case of Israel, the priest would, after making an offering, read the stones that were upon the priest’s ephod [vest], or receive a revelation directly when standing before the Ark of the Covenant.  The idea was that gods or God was interfering with man, and so, only the leadership of a nation could determine the desire or corrective action of the gods, or Yehovah.

This mentality of leadership management was prevalent in Calvin’s political and theological ideology, and in Reformed and Pentecostal churches.   The traditional churches such as Roman Catholicism, Russian Orthodox have a similar bent toward Deterministic rule. They regulate as if every pastor and board were the incarnation of Moses, Joshua, Caleb and Hur, while subjecting every Christian to bondage of rule sets. This ideology of men – that produces mediators between the congregant(s) and Jesus Christ, robs believers of their priesthood and kingship in Christ [1Pe.2:9].

This management style goes beyond the decrees of Christ or St Paul, who argued for the free will of every person or church member to decide for himself, what is right in the eyes of God – by use of prayer and scripture.   Jesus, in Revelation, commends the Ephesian members for testing those who claim apostleship and they had found some to be false [Rev2:2].   The right to properly judge one’s leadership is not only common sense, but is also good stewardship in Christ.  Paul reiterates a similar vein in Ac.17:11.

“Free Will” management would accept the reality of one’s problem, and create solutions that remedy the situation. This would be followed by anticipating future events, while using rationale and logic to overcome the potential for recurrence.

In the case of Christians, the problem is remedied by use of the Free Will, mitigated by prayer, petition scripture, and the advice of fellow believers – but in the end the disciplined believer must make a choice.  The Congregational movement of the late 1700’s, introduced the true Ecclesia [the church body in whole] for major decisions, as a reform to allow the Holy Spirit to act upon every member’s free conscience.

Churches to day use syncretism of both doctrines – Deterministic Management and Free Will.

I for one understand and believe that God can and will have his way. It is obvious that God is sovereign, as well as omniscient and omnipotent.  However, no one will ever read in the New Testament that he grants his arbitrary sovereignty to any man, save Jesus Christ.  Moses had his position because he was humble.  Even David and Solomon were subject to the rebukes of prophets, and the strong opinions of captains and chieftains.  In the secular world, we call it limited monarchies or the democratic process.

As a general philosophy or fundamental doctrine that describes the nature of God, Sovereignty is a necessary primer.  As a fundamental philosophy for establishing human authority, it becomes Pandora’s Box.  By demanding a peculiar adherence to one attribute of God’s personality at the expense of his other qualities, remakes God in the image of the philosopher, bishop or minister.  That God is a judge, he is also a forgiver.  That God is almighty – he is also gentile.  That God holds secrets, he also explains mysteries.

Understandably, the corrupt nature of man is always looking for a reason to keep his rank and privilege.  He uses this philosophic strategy, while thinking himself better than most and certainly wiser, and as the example of good.  Notably, kings and nobles have use this tactic since the era of the “Robber Barons” [circa 1850’s] – entrenching the idea of human sovereignty [above others], especially since the emergence of technology.

I know of no rich man or noble that does not think himself “determined” by God to complete every futile idea he generates under the sun, because he says, “God has found me of such noble character and intrinsic value, I have the right to rule, whether by spiritual affinity, secular authority or financial abundance.  This form of lofty insanity reigns in London, and in Washington, New York City, and at the UN, today.

Every man, god fearing or not, who wants to succeed, does so by Free Will aspirations, because that is where his fundamental God-given creativity and inspiration resides.  By their attitude of visualizing success, they automatically place at risk their own mammon or life, and operate independently.  With the Christian, success is visualized by accessing Christ’s command for that individual and applying prayer, creative desire and faithfulness.

Jesus said, “Freely you have received, freely give” [Mt.10:8].  This automatically implies free will and an active creative faculty to choose one’s motives and management – free to choose – free to give.

The God given right to make choices, with or without God’s help, was already resident in Old Testament Law.

“Now choose life that you and your children may live [Deut.30:19]

 

“But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the  gods your forefathers served beyond the river, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living [Jos.24:15].  

 

If the LORD is God, follow him; but, if Baal is God, follow him” [1Kg.18:21].

Without free will, man is nothing more than an automaton, and no better than an animal.  He loses his purpose, sentience, and ability to love by emotion and by reason.  The only regulating factor that would resolve a person’s quality before God, in a Free Will decision, is his motive – whether by love [agape] or by self-interest.  The fact is, God has preordained men to make self-interested decisions, for the purpose of testing their faithfulness.

For purposes of this chapter, we will look at the SPF model and its history within the Church of Jesus Christ and effects upon secondary doctrine.  We will analyze its beginning and its fruit, and understand how it can misguide many people into ego centric salvation and out of the hope of salvation, by inducing fatalism.

Historical Review:

There are many reasons that caused 15th and 16th century Protestant theologians to delve into the themes of: the Sovereignty of God, Predestination and the Election: among them are simple inquiry, subtle conflicts, and the ever present ego of intellectuals.   Previous to Calvin and his followers, the average Christian had no doubt about the meaning of these three words, and there were no controversies, save some early hermeneutic investigations completed by the Western Church fathers; Augustine [354-430AD] and Thomas Aquinas [1225-1274AD]. Augustine argued his position of divine grace against the monk, Pelagius, who took a casual view based on man’s logic and rationale only – stating that man chooses God and lives for him upon man’s own fee-will strength.

Here we see the free will argument taken to its most absurd end.  If man needs nothing but his freewill to follow God, then Christ is of no value. This position assumes that man would desire God based upon humanity’s terms. Not surprising, humanity’s terms are obviously not logical, since we can observe contemporaneously and by history, humanity’s terms of affiliation with God, albeit via differences with every religious method that is manufactured.  Which method of religion would be the standard?  Who should determine that quagmire?  However, God has made his terms quite obvious – by faith and obedience, which can be traced back into the Old Testament, from the New.

The reader should understand that even though a tumultuous period of 400 years had passed with attacks from many false doctrines, yet it took several centuries to get around to discussing the finer merits of what was in God’s mind, from eternity past – concerning SPE.

After another 700 years, another Church Theologian, Thomas Aquinas, developed a satisfying alternative to understanding salvation.   He states like Pelagius, that God desires salvation for all mankind, by presenting adequate grace [unmerited favor] to everyone on the face of the earth.  However, God leaves it in each man’s heart to accept or reject his pardon and sanctification process.

One place where Aquinas fails to satisfy the inquiry, relates to the Great Commission, found in Mt.28:18-20.  The dilemma is as follows: if disciples are now doing the work of Christ, then an unbeliever’s chance of receiving the word of Salvation would be greatly hindered by the inability of men to complete the task of preaching the Gospel.  This failure to bring the Gospel can lead to some, who should have received the evangel, but would never know the salvation of Christ, and so they were robbed of their Free Will choice.

Paul hinted at the potential for this failure in Romans.

“For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile – the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, ‘for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How can they call on the one they have not believed in?  And how can they believe in the one they have not heard?  And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent?  As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those that bring the good news’” [Rm.10:12-15]

An equal dilemma is found on the deterministic SPE side of reason, in that: if we need to preach to make disciples, then God has not simply chosen one person for Heaven and another for Hell.  They would find God without preaching because he predestined (predetermined) them to be saved.

If Predestination is as Calvin presents, there need not be any preaching, no church services, and no conformity to God’s holiness – for God has already determined who will “get-in.”

What is obvious is that Paul is not working out who is saved and who is going to hell, on the basis of Sovereignty, Predestination and Election [SPE], but encouraging Christians to be obedient and spread the news to “whoever will.”

When Paul is using the terms “predestined” or “election,” he is talking only to the believers and their hope – not those of potential who are outside the Church.  His general avenue of thought is: “Since you now understand that you are saved by God’s unmerited favor [kindness and grace], act accordingly in thanksgiving – showing yourselves as faithful disciples [the Elect] that prove to the universe that Gods generosity [Predestination] was not in vain.”

“As he says in Hosea, ‘I will call them my people,’ who are NOT my people; and I will call her ‘my loved one’ who is not my loved one” [Rom.9:25].

Israel was predestined by God to take his Salvation and blessing to the world.  They failed miserably, so he rejected generations of Jews, and decided to grant, “Whosoever will,” Jew or Gentile, the option to become the Elect.  However, as for “election” God still has a remnant of genetically traceable Jews [Rom.10:28], who will be saved at the end of man’s history – not as Christian converts, but as believers in Yehovah, who are looking for their Messiah [Zech. chapters 12-14].

The surprise this Jewish remnant incurs, is that when they see the Presence [Gk., Parousia] of their God on the Mount of Olives they will recognize that he is Jesus Christ, the Christian Savior – and they will weep in shame for having distrusted him [Zech.12:10-14].

We must remember that the Evangel and its Salvation message come by way of Inductive Reasoning [direct commands, via the basic scheme of God].  However, man tries his best to figure out the secrets of God, by Deductive Reasoning [understanding the hidden, by connecting small things].

Further, there is no insult to God if man tries to delve the secrets of God, by Biblical study and inquiry, but we can find ourselves “straining out a gnat, and swallowing a camel” [Mt.23:24].  This is why the process of Salvation, via sanctification, is by obedience and faith [Rom.1:5], and not by understanding every little secret angle.

Obedience, is directly translated either as “submissive” [hupakoe] or “to be found under” [hupotasso], sixteen time in the New Testament, when dealing with Christ’s humanity and our following his example – as the avenue of salvation sanctification.  We are by first order, Free Will submissive [hupakoe], and by second order, placed under God’s determined obedience [hupotasso], for our lives.

Analysis of Calvin’s Theology:

John Calvin was the child of a Church administrator and clerk. His father did well for him by having him appointed the companion of the children of a nobleman. Therefore, wherever his rich and connected friends went, he went also – and this included University.

John Calvin first studies were: rhetoric, art, philosophy, Greek, and Latin. When it came time for studying at the seminary, his father had him assigned to law school.  He must have been happy indeed since his previous studies included Humanism, in addition to the Greco philosophers and their agile art of apologetics.

During his stay at University he was referred to as the “Accusative Case,” since his law fellows received constant critical analysis from John concerning their behavior.  Apparently, it never dawned on Calvin to consider his own rapacious carping as unkind.

Rather than teaching or earning from the Law, he pursued philosophies, and government while writing many treatises – one which tried reforming the Church via a program called: “Tolerant Christian Humanism.”  His views were not accepted as intellectual achievements or reasonable reforms for the Roman Church.  This event together with the ideas of French reformer, Jacques Lefevre d’Etaples, and his commissioner, Margaret of Angouleme [the king’s sister], sealed Calvin’s anti-papal leanings.

Additionally, he was never given the “Right of Succession” as a priest or Bishop, as all other notable Protestant reformers use to prove their continuity with the authority of the original Apostles of Christ. And this deficiency has led to many transient saddle preacher’s establishing new churches that grant them their pastoral call, upon their art of rhetoric and ego of vanity.  If a man desires the call of bishop or deacon, let him be called by the congregation that has as its founder, a man known to have continuity in the “Right of Succession” [1Tim.3:1-13].

John Calvin’s main secular interests were law and government, which he did very well, and as ruthless as the kings and archbishops he helped depose.  Furthermore, he was very interested in saving taxes, making money and removing the threats to the upper middle class – for he always surrounded himself, at Geneva, with nobles and regional bankers, whether in His Church, or in His government.  His redeeming value, as I see it, was that he placed great activity in establishing free [anti-pope] churches within his beloved Switzerland.

This is not to say, that John Calvin was not a believer – he definitely appears to have been – he gave written testimony – but he lacked many of the convincing signs of a man ruled by God.  He threatened many men in Europe with hanging if they ever stepped foot inside his jurisdiction – simply because they took rhetorical argument with his theological views.  In several documented cases, men were hanged, beheaded and burned at the stake on the say-so of Calvin.

Calvin built a whole theology around the Sovereignty of God.  This of course seems preposterous at first, since everyone understands that God is sovereign, as we understand the word.  Should we likewise create a reformed sectarian church around God’s omnipresence?

Calvin, a very convincing lawyer, knew that the people he had to contend with were the Pope and European “sovereigns” – royalty!  Since Church and State were intertwined, one must find a suitable venue from which to untie them – and so came the idea that Salvation was by a sovereign move  [unchangeable decision] of God – by favor to those he predestined [decided to choose], which were called the elect.  All others are imposters – and those imposters just happened to be royals and Popish Roman Catholics, were also known to be superstitious and idol worshiping.

Notably, it never dawned on Calvin and some of his proponents today, that God has the sovereign right to change his mind at any point in man’s history, as evinced in Gen.6:6; 8:21, Num.13:1-2; 14:23; 1Sam.15:10; Is.38:1-6.

However, in one fell swoop, Calvin was able to disenfranchise the sovereign Roman See, and the sovereign royals from their sovereign hold on the masses.  Unintentionally, by focusing Salvation on God’s Sovereignty, rather than his kindness, Calvin changed the Biblical focus of holiness from personal responsibility and stewardship, to predetermined acceptance into Heaven – regardless of faithfulness.

Oddly, the word “Sovereignty,” is not found in the Hebrew or Greek lexicon of the Bible. It is from the 14th century French and the Anglo-French and means; supreme power, autonomy.  It comes down to us from the Vulgar Latin ‘superanus,’ meaning someone above others.  Notably, the word ‘Sovereign,’ was coined in the 1490’s, and used until 1817, to mark a gold coin worth about one British Pound.  Now this is very telling psychologically and sociologically.  The object of sovereigns was to extract taxes unabated, and clearly, Calvin was in a debate using terminology the Nobles and Pope would definitely understand.

So, it can be seen clearly that Calvin’s triumphant Sovereignty doctrine starts from the lexicon of men, not the Word of God.  Perhaps, John Calvin interpolated the idea from God’s pronoun, “God Almighty,” [Heb., el shaddia], but this is literally rendered: mighty or sufficient.  I do not believe the Pope would have received a serious argument based upon the epic; “Sufficient!”

I am NOT arguing that God is not sovereign [above us], for he certainly is – according to the English and French meaning of the word.  Simply put, there is no such word concerning God in the Hebrew and in the Greek.

A better choice for Calvin would have been ‘holy’ [Heb., qadosh, qaddish, or qodesh;  or Gk., hagios] and in both languages means ‘separate’ or ‘set apart.’  But you can understand that these words do not capture that same meaning as ‘Sovereign,’ and would have had the same anticlimactic effect on the Pope and the self-serving nobles.

Oddly, Calvin stretches the meaning of ‘sovereign’ when he interprets this Latin based word, and demands that it means God is immutable or unchangeable – God, therefore, cannot change his mind, which we have seen is not so, according to scripture. He can be immutable where he states he will be immutable, but where he is not, he gives himself the right to change his mind.

The reason for this is obvious.  If God states or swears by himself that he will do something, he must then do it.  He says that those who refuse him will go to Hell.  Can you now understand why he is taking his time bringing mankind into the fold of Jesus Christ?  Hell will be an immutable act.   He takes his word very seriously, as Jesus wants us to.  Hence, we are told swear by nothing, but let your yes be yes, and your no be no [Mt.5:33-37].

As a final analysis, the Hebrew and Greek words that would bring about the idea of being above [sovereign] everyone and everything else, are listed usually as subtle adjectives, for God, and are not pronouns.

In the Hebrew there are several adjectives: ‘maal’ [above], Deut.4:39; ‘maron’ [far above] Ps.10:5.  In the Greek there are: ‘epi’ [upon, on, over] Eph.4:6; ‘epano’ [above all] Mk.14:5; ‘ano’ [above all] Ac.2:19, ‘anoteron’ [comparatively higher], and ‘anothen’ [from above].

Nevertheless, Calvin should have stayed with not going beyond the scripture [2Jn.9], as Martin Luther had stated in his universal and immutable declaration: “of Scripture Only!”

Getting a Handle on Predestination, Predestinate, and Election 

The Greek word for ‘predestinate’ is proorizo’ and means, determined – that which God’s foreknowledge has decided; specifically, beforehand as found in Ac.4:28; 1Cor.2:7 or ordained Rom.8:29-30; Eph.1:5, 11.

In Ac.4:28, Paul is saying that what Pilot and the Sanhedrin did, God had already declared that they would do it, beforehand.  Do what?  Judge and reject The Son of God.  This is not so hard to understand if we approach this from a observable common sense.

Let us give thought to how the security, intelligence and strategy analysts determine what will generally occur on a battle field, or how an operative will respond.  The analysts profile the government, agency or individual. They have knowledge [foreknowledge] of how they most probably will respond to a set of stimuli.  The CIA, NSA and Naval Intelligence do these things with remarkable success, and we are only humans with limited foresight.  God understands people and events from every infinite angle.

It is a notable psychological effect that security personnel can “profile” a criminal or sinner, with remarkable ease, yet they cannot do the same with a righteous man.  Oh, they can say that Disciple so and so, will eat such and such a breakfast, or put on, such and such clothes, but they cannot predetermine his response when he is placed into an environment of confusion and evil.  The profilers will be surprised every time.  This is because sinners follow the same mechanized order of thinking that culminates into the same mistakes, over and over again.   Sinners lose their common sense, creativity, intuition and foresight, but the man of God increases in common sense, creativity, intuition and foresight, the closer he gets to God.

The Greek word for ‘foreknow’ is different and is ‘proginosko’ and means, to know before.  We get our modern English word, prognosticate and prognosis from this Greek word.

Let’s examine this. Doctors examine a patient, and make a determination as to their health, and if ill, they render a prognosis.  Based upon a set of facts, the doctor is led to the conclusion that the patient has a disease and can, with some certainty, determine [predestinate] why they have it.

A way to look at Ac.4:28 is that God understood how these sinners would behave and so he positioned His Son with them to accomplish what he decide before hand – that they would try Christ, and crucify him.

Consider further – if the doctor prescribes a medicine that would cure the disease, or he gives advice to stop a bad habit that causes the disease, and the man decides not to take that medicine or advice;  who is responsible for his death?  And did he have respect for the doctor’s opinion?  Did the patient make a Free Will choice?

Effectively, Romans, chapters 29-30, is stating the obvious, but with a specified purpose concerning God’s determination.  Those that God understood to have respect [agape – love, respect of opinion] for His purpose and views, he determined [predestined] that they should conform to the image of Jesus Christ.  It does not say that they would go directly to Heaven or be transmuted into angelic type bodies immediately, but that they would be sanctified and conform to his Son, first.  Those God determined [predestined] he called – that is, he spoke to them [Jn16:8-11], so that they would have the chance to receive the message and Christ.  And how do we receive the message?  As it says in Heb.1:2,

“God spoke to our forefathers through prophets…but in these last days he has spoken to us by His Son… [Heb.1:1-2].

 

“But I ask, ‘Did they not hear?’ Of course they did.” [Rom.10:18

Why then, do people not understand? Because as Paul quoted Isaiah, “Lord, who has believed our message?

It is understood that those who do not accept Christ, do so because they do not believe [have no respect] what God has said to them openly.  Why? – Because they are self-centered.  They make a knowledgeable decision to resist.  And it is this malignant stubbornness [a Free Will internal decision] that God foreknew.

But What About Election?

The Greek word for ‘elect’ and ‘election’ are ‘eklektos’ and ‘ekloge’ – respectively.  They virtually mean, the chosen one(s) and the choice, or the choosing; the pick out; the selection, and to pick out; select.  We receive our modern word ‘election’ from the Latin, which is ‘electus’  and sounds, and as well, means virtually the same in Greek, to pick out of.  It comes from a compound of words; ex = ‘out,’ and legere = ‘gather.’  In the Greek the two compounds are: ek = ‘from,’ and lego = ‘to gather’

We understand what happens in an election.  Many qualified and choice individuals will run as candidates, but only a few will be elected [picked from among the rest].

What about foreknowing?

In the Gospel of John we told:

“And this is Life Eternal, that they may know thee, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent” [Jn.17:3 – KJV]

I used the KJ version because the NIV quotes it improperly. The NIV uses the word “Salvation” rather than the words “Life Eternal”. The received text in the original text uses the words “eternal life.” As we have seen, Salvation is a process that uses Sanctification to receive the outcome – the hope of Eternal Life.

The word ‘know’ is ‘ginosko’ and means to assimilate knowledge, or data completely – whether visually, audibly, by odor, taste or touch.  It goes further than just having facts or data, but intimates a realization of the facts.

Generally speaking, many people know about Jesus Christ, but few know him.  They do not know what he likes, or what he is requiring them to do.  They do not know what pleases him.  They do not know the Lord intimately – as one knows that a friend would desire a glass of Pepsi when he comes to visit, rather than a Sprite.  They do not know those little unadvertised things.

It is imperative that a person take the time to know Christ.  Knowing him comes by prayer, scripture reading and obedience to the call.  When we seek, knock and ask and never give up, eventually, the Holy Spirit will break through the fog of confusion and open our minds to understanding God’s intent for us.  Additionally, we will pick up our Father’s emotive proclivities.

It is very beneficial to understand how God views his relationship with the elect.  In Exodus 33 and 34 we have the pagan calf episode.

The Israelites make the calf and an altar for sacrifice and then engage in sexual revelry, drunkenness and debauchery.  They call the golden calf their god.  Moses comes onto the scene and is livid and smashes the stone tablets Yehovah had given him.

Moses asks God to forgive them.  Instead the Lord states he will not forgive them – the sin was too great.  So he has Moses move the tent Tabernacle outside the camp, and tells him, anyone wishing to inquire of Yehovah are to come outside the camp to the tabernacle.  Scripture explains that everyone stayed in camp and worshiped from afar, while only Moses, Aaron Caleb, and Joshua went out there.  They were the only ones getting to KNOW Yehovah.  As Christians, we are not to worship from afar, but up close and personal.

After Moses brings the camp under control, he meets with Yehovah inside the tent tabernacle and says:

“You have said, lead these people, but you have not let me know whom you will send with me” [Ex.33:12].

Moses wants the presence of the Lord.  He is carefully encouraging Yehovah to go with them.  Moses is not rejecting his call even in the face of a stupid and rebellious people.

Now Moses says:

“You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people”  [Ex.33:12b-13]

Hear what scripture teaches.  God say that he knows Moses by name.  Is it that God doesn’t know the names of people in the camp except for that of Moses?  The scriptures are stating that Moses knew God, but he wanted a closer union with the LORD, and so he stayed obedient to his call while he asked for the closer relationship.  Yehovah demonstrates his solidarity with, and acceptance of Moses’ desire – adding that he knows Moses by name” [Ex.33:17].  This means God has respect for the person of Moses.  If God does not have your respect, you are considered by him as “hey you over there.”

This is vitally important to grasp.  We not only want to know Christ, we want Christ to know us by name, and gain his acceptance and respect for our personage.

Along this same line the name Nephilim are rendered as: ‘that thing’ – with no personal respectful identification except as a mistake.  The word Nephilim is a compound of several Hebrew words; im = that one and like or unto; the word illem = dumb man; the word illen = these; nephal = fall down; nephaq = come forth; and nephel = untimely birth.  Joining these meanings we can translate as a definition of Nephilim as: “those things that act like dumb men, who came about as an untimely birth, from the falling.”

In essence they are the offspring of “the fallen,” hence, pseudo-human, not an intended creation of God.  Note that the Nephilim have been linked to Gen.6:1-2.  Extra-Biblical books, such as Enoch, express aptly a work of Satan during this past period of history.

God does not respect the Nephilim.  He does not acknowledge them by name.  Those that do not respect [love – Gk., ‘agape’] God are in turn, not respected by God.

This is a remarkable thing, in that the Creator and Redeemer of mankind is desiring a close friendship with men on a personal and intimate level – where everything the man does is evaluated by God – not for  censure, but for symbiotic pleasure and encouragement – and at times, on a level playing field.

To understand this, consider how a prince would converse with his father the king. At an intimate time like dinner, and away from the prying eyes and ears of courtesans, their speech would be frank, and without protocols of hierarchy.

And finally, Moses receives his request.  Not only will Yehovah sent the “Angel of the Face of The Lord,” to be with Israel, but Yehovah affords Moses a general survey of his backside – in full view.  But what is special is that Yehovah lets Moses know another attribute, or name qualifier, from which to distinguish the God of Heaven. It is by his name ‘YHWH’ [I am that I am – the Eternal One] and by his favored attribute of willing to forgive.

“The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love, and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin, yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished…”  [Ex.34:6-7].

Hear what scripture is teaching.  God has many attributes – among them: sovereignty, omniscience, omnipresence, all power, the final judge, executioner etc.  Yet he wishes to be known as, ‘YHWH,’ the Eternally Existent One – in specific, as he that was, is, and ever will be, so that man knows he has a God that will never go away.  Secondly, Yehovah chooses to declare his favorite expressions of himself: compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, overflowing with love [see Ps.92:2], faithful, maintaining his love, forgiving the worst sins, even rebellion against him, BUT he will judge those that are guilty of sin – he does not have a blind eye when it comes to sin.

If you will notice, God though he is a sovereign, is willing to have planar relationships with those that love [respect] him.   How can one not end up loving [liking, preferring, desiring] him, after experiencing how he treats the believer, who obeys and trusts him out of simple respect?

How is it that John Calvin missed the best attributes of God, while Luther did not?   Had Calvin discovered this preference about Christ, he would have spared those whom he beheaded, hanged and burned at the stake.

What is to be gleaned here is that spending time in prayer, scripture study and worship, leads the believer into intimacy with the eternal God, and this is what makes one’s prospective grow in grace and understanding, so that his life is filled with the attributes of his God.  This is how we are to make the effort to grow in grace and secure our election – with certainty, just as Peter encouraged us [2Pe.1:11].

Demonstrating by Parable

I want to have healthy chickens for egg layers.   I know [foreknew] that a certain percentage sent to me will have problems such as physical anomalies and the dread of any egg farmer, the desire to eat their own eggs.  So I determine beforehand [predestinate] to buy 50 chickens in the hope that I get 10 good layers with a gentle disposition for winter-over.

The chicks arrive and right out of the box, two are dead.  The other forty-eight I feed the same food and give the same care.  As time progresses I find that five are roosters, which I foreknow, will not produce any eggs.  I predestine them to the soup pot.  That leaves forty-one hens to elect from.   After they reach eight months they star laying eggs.  Ten hens are found to have egg on their beaks and so I clip the beaks [chasten – place through discipline] to stop their egg sucking.  After disciplining the ten hens I find that only four were cured [sanctified].  The other six I predestined for the soup pot.

The final egg layers that will not eat eggs are: 50 [-2, -5, – 6] = 37.

The thirty seven are placed [called] into their own hen house [church] while the other thirteen are left to wander around the pen area.  Again, I feed the same food, and given the same care to all forty-eight.

As the winter comes I notice that some of the thirty seven laying hens have different diseases.  Eleven have bad hearing – they do not come when I call.   I also notice that no matter how high I build the fence; sixteen hens constantly jump over the fence and cause all sorts of nasty mess [sin] on my front porch.

By late September, at harvest’s end, I decide to make my selection [election, 37[-11- 16] = 10].  I gather up my ten [elect] choices.  I place them into a heated shed with lots of grain and fresh hay.  I give names to these hens, because they are so responsive [obedient] toward me and produce many eggs [the bear fruit], I think of them as family pets.   I will always care for them, and never eat them, because they delighted me.  After all, many are called, but few are chosen!

As for the other thirty-eight; after securing my ten wonderful hens in safety, I will gather the rest into holding bags – where I will one by one kill and clean them up for storage  – for later use – where I will begin to roast them.

Listen to the word of the Lord:

“…so it will be at the end of the age.  The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil.  They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their father.  HE WHO HAS EARS, LET HIM HEAR. [Mt.13:40-43] 

Conclusion of this Matter:

Salvation comes from God, not from man.  It starts in a person’s heart because the Father calls out to the individual to listen and receive.   The ears are yours also, as is your mind, with its sentience, and free will.  As Paul wrote, “The spirit of prophets is subject to the [control of] prophets” [1Cor.14:34].

Christ told us to enter the narrow gate and to stay on the narrow road [Mt.7:13].  From hearing to repentance – from repentance to belief – from belief to sanctification – from sanctification to the works of God – Salvation is an ever increasing process of growth.  If understood, you are responsible.  Once it is started, you must proceed.  If stopped you stagnate.  If rejected or ignored, the penalty is eternity in Hell.

God has not called us to ‘easy religion.’ but to follow his son intelligibly, by foresight, and deliberately in the face of hostile opposition. Religion by its nature is staccato – plagued by laws and regulations that cannot be mitigated.  Christianity is an intelligent choice to follow the call of God in Christ into battlefields of trouble, while accepting the loss of friends, relatives and employment, for the sake of knowing the Father and his Son.

Salvation may cost us everything, or it may cost us our most choice and reasonable possessions, trusts, and relationships.  However, the rewards are staggering, and far beyond the comprehension of our limited minds.

If we start on the road of Christ, we may be sure to lose friends and become a stench in the nostrils of the cosmopolitan world.  We can expect persecution and hardship, but God will be with us at every step.

We are called to follow our Savior into the Mother-of-all-Battles – the war for the souls of men.

Remember, that the most persecuted Christians on the face of the earth are North Koreans.  They and their children – including infants and toddlers – are tortured because of their belief in Christ.  Yet they persist, even when they are hung on meat hooks and beaten, starved, mutilated and forced to watch their infants strangled or drowned by prison guards or other prisoners.

To have the Gospel of Christ resident in a literally closed country – a veritable regional maximum prison – is a testimony to the power and “sovereignty” of God.  It is a bona fide miracle, and yet those placed into force labor, do not give up in the face of the Hell on earth.  They make free will choices for the coveted gift of eternal Life by intimate knowledge of the triune God.  Their rewards of crowns, positions, and authority will be established for all eternity.

I end this chapter with the words of Peter, when he realized that Jesus demanded obedience in the face of events and teachings that the world considered too extreme and incomprehensible;

“On hearing it, many of his disciples said, ‘This is a hard teaching.  Who can accept it?’ Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, ‘does this offend you?…’” 

 

“…’Yet there are some of you that do not believe.’  For Jesus had known from the beginning, which of them did not believe and who would try to betray him.  He went on to say, ‘this is why I had told you that no one can come to me unless [literal follows] it is having been given to him of the Father.”

Men follow after Christ for meat, others for sport, and others yet to subvert, but only those who hear the call of God and believed the message, respond for the joy to know him. They are the only ones capable of continuing in the face of consternation.

“From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. You do not want to leave me too, do you?’ Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of Eternal Life…”  [Jn.6:60-68]

1 thought on “Salvation, what exactly is it?

  1. Well presented and Biblically defended presentation. Salvation = faith and obedience = sanctification = knowing the Lord our God = being known by Him = Eternal life. ‘ My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand." John 10:27,28
    Sadly, not the salvation being presented in many American Churches in these times but we have been shown in the Word of God that this is how it will go. Praise to our Lord for His work in and through you, enjoyed meeting you and look forward to seeing you again for worship when we visit again. My parents are George and Sue = )

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