In last weekís bulletin we discussed that fact that Godís grace is not universally given unto all.  Godís grace is contingent upon manís faithful reaction to hearing of it.  If the initial reception of Godís grace is conditional then it stands to reason that maintaining access to Godís grace is also conditional.
However, due to the misunderstandings of Godís grace and how manís role plays a part in our the salvation of our souls many have come to believe that once you have been saved, it is impossible to lose that salvation.  Passage like John 10:27-29 certainly appear to be teaching that once you are saved, you are always saved.  ďMy sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.Ē  If no one can remove one in Christís or in Godís hand, how then can they be removed?  Based upon this passage, it appears that grace is not contingent upon manís doing, but Godís.  After all, who can contend with God?  Who can thwart Godís will?  Certainly not man!  But, is this passage in John misapplied?  It is being twisted to mean something it cannot mean and stay in harmony with the rest of the scriptures? 
Paul taught that we can receive the gift of God in vain. 
ďWe then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.  For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation (II Cor. 6:1-2).Ē  The word vain here according to Thayerís means to be empty as in without effect.  In other words, you cannot benefit from that grace.  He goes on in verse 2 to say that today is the day of salvation.  This was said to those who have already put on Christ in baptism.  These were those who were already in the gracious hands of our God.  And yet, Paul warns them that they could still receive that grace in vain.  How?  By causing shame to the ministry (II Cor. 6:3) and not separating oneself from the ways of the world (II Cor. 6:14-18).
Paul also taught that it was possible to fall from Godís grace. 
ďChrist is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace (Gal. 5:4).Ē  How can Paul be so mistaken?  He clearly is teaching here that it is possible to fall from grace.  All one has to do is try to live by the standards of the Mosaic Law.  If what Chris is teaching is that it is impossible to fall, then Paul would have to be a false teacher.  I cannot believe this to be true.
So, what is it that Christ is really teaching?  It is Christís sheep that are hearing his voice.  It is Christís sheep that are following him.  His sheep have very specific qualities.  If the sheep is refusing to listen to the voice and commandments of Christ, if the sheep is refusing to follow where the master is leading then it is not really Christís sheep then is it?  Even if that sheep occasionally listens to the good shepherd it does not make them his sheep if he or she is shows a constant rebellious attitude towards God.  Furthermore, just because no man cannot pluck them out of Godís hand, it does not mean that God himself wonít cast them aside.  The scriptures are quite clear that God can, has, and will continue to cut of the sinner from among his people.  The northern nation of Israel was carried off into Assyrian captivity, never to return, because of their sin.  Judah too was carried off into captivity, many died in Babylon because of their sin, never to again see the joys of the Promised Land.  The same will again happen to those that ignore Godís call for purity among his people.
So, how can you make certain that you will not lose your gift?  Make certain that you know Godís will.  Paul told Timothy that a workman will study to prove himself (II Tim. 2:15).  But knowing the word is not enough.  We actually have to become doers of the word (James 1:22).  As you continue your studies, be honest with yourself (Gal. 6:4).  You might fool man, but you will never fool God. He knows exactly who you are and what you do.  He knows if you are being diligent to live righteously or merely going through the motions.  Have a broken and contrite heart when you find out that you are caught up in sin (Psa. 34:18).  Plead for forgiveness and truly repent.  And lastly trust in God.  As Christ said, he will protect his sheep.  God will not abandon you (Heb. 13:5).  Let that sink in.  He is not looking for a reason to cast you out.  He did not send His Son to this world to condemn it, but to save it (John 3:16).  We should not be living in fear of a lightning bolt of destruction from God.  In fact, we should be living in peace, knowing that He is right there, providing the help we need (I Cor. 10:13). 
-WTK
Grinnell church of Christ
 
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Be Ye Faithful Until Death Part 3

The Light
Volume 3 Issue 36    August 5, 2012