I know you claim that 2 Timothy 2:11-13 teach that we cannot lose our salvation.
11. This is a faithful saying:
For if we died with Him,
We shall also live with Him.
12. If we endure,
We shall also reign with Him.
If we deny Him,
He also will deny us.
13. If we are faithless,
He remains faithful;
He cannot deny Himself.
This might seem long, but I will go through several verses that I still don’t understand how they go with what is written in 2 Timothy and the idea of not being able to lose salvation; please take your time to go through this, don’t rush through it:
Some of these passages might not go with the idea of not being able to lose salvation, because they might deal with truths from before the great dispensational change at Acts 28:28. ALL the verses you gave me are from earlier, Acts period books. Yet there is a lot of things I could say about all these verses, and so I will comment on them below.
“The one who *conquers* will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the *faithless*, the detestable, as for the murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and *all* liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” -Revelation 21:7,8 [ESV]
This verse from Revelation concerns me. Especially when it says those who conquer. I know I haven’t conquered my sins, much less do I know anyone else. So, I don’t understand this verse.
Well, having just talked about right division backwards, I must now switch to talking about it forwards. The book of Revelation is written to believers in seven churches (actually “ekklesia“s in Greek. I don’t think an “ekklesia” is actually what we think of as a “church.”) I believe that ALL seven of these churches are future. In fact, I believe that the events of Revelation take place in a period yet to come, hundreds of years in the future from where we are now.
The people who are being written to in the book of Revelation are going through the great test that is commonly called the “great tribulation.” A “tribulum” was a machine that threw grain into the air. If you did this on a sufficiently windy day, the wind would blow the lighter “chaff” away, and only the heavier grain would fall back unto the tribulum. When you ran it enough times, you would totally separate the grain from the chaff, only leaving the good grain that you wanted sitting on the tribulum. In the same way, the tribulation divides those who are “conquerers” or overcomers from those who fail God’s great test.
The great test is for men who have lived for hundreds of years under God’s government. Now, He is testing them to see if they have learned what He wanted them to learn. Some will “conquer,” while others will fail the test and be removed from the kingdom (into the lake of fire.)
What is going on in Revelation has nothing to do with us today. None of us are “conquerers,” because none of us is taking the test. I do not believe that this test is meant for us, even when the future time comes. We will be like the teacher’s aides, if anything. We have already passed our great test by believing in the time of God’s silence. We will be there to help those whose time has come to take their own test.
“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: nether the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. -1 Corinthians 6:9,10 [ESV]
This set of verses refers to what they once were, but if they turn back to their ways, I think that would mean that they would fall back on this category of people who will not inherit the kingdom of God.
You stopped one verse short! Consider the next verse.
11. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
When we are “justified,” then we are made right in God’s sight. These things we may have done in the past are no longer counted against us. We are “washed” from these things, and are set apart to God (sanctified.)
Secondly, what does it mean to inherit the kingdom of God? A kingdom is a government, and to inherit God’s future government means to have a place or enjoy a portion in it. When we consider the governments of this world, we know that often those who have their portion in these governments and who bear great authority within them are not the kind of persons that God would like to see there. How many government officials are the type who would, indeed, visit prostitutes? How many commit unclean acts? Many there are in our own government who use the very covetousness of the people to gain support for themselves and their schemes to buy votes. Many in spirit, if not in physical reality, hold up idols in their hearts rather than acknowledging the true God. Yet these men, unfit to reign in any kind of Godly government, are the type who as a whole populate the high positions of the governments of this world. This is not strange, for this is the type of men that we see most commonly around us every day.
Yet when God’s government comes, this will not be the way it is. You will not find any of His governors ever being immoral, or committing adultery. They will not be swindlers, greedy, and so forth. Like the men chosen by Moses’ direction in Exodus 18:21, they will hate all forms of covetousness. They will honor the true God in their hearts, and not set up false idols to worship. These are the type of men who will have a place and enjoy a portion in the government of God that will yet be set up on this earth.
This, ultimately, is what I believe this passage is saying. I do not think that Paul is warning these people that, if they do these things, they will lose something. Rather, he is using this as an example as to why they should not live this way. Those who are honored by God with positions in the government to come are those who do not do these things. Therefore, as those seeking to live for God, the Corinthians should not be living this way. He has warned them about going to court with other believers, and attempting to cheat them. Yet every one of them hoped to be some sort of ruler, whether high or low, in God’s kingdom. What were they doing acting this way, when they had this hope? They were not living up to the position God was holding out to them. He is not warning these people that they could lose their salvation and be destroyed. That has been taken care of by the fact that they are “in Christ.” Yet those who are in Christ should act like God’s governors will in times to come, not like those destined for destruction do in the present, evil eon. That, I believe, is what the Holy Spirit is teaching them here. He is not warning them that if they go back to acting this way, they will lose their salvation.
Consider the man David. David is predicted in the Scriptures to have an extremely high position in the kingdom of God to come. In Ezekiel, written hundreds of years after David’s death, God tells us that David will be raised from the dead to have an extremely high position in God’s government to come. In Ezekiel 34:23, the prophet says that David will be the “shepherd” of the people of Israel. Verse 24 says that David will be a prince among them. Ezekiel 37:25 says that David will be a prince forever. Hosea 3:5, again written long after David’s death, says that someday Israel will seek David as their king. So David has an inheritance in the kingdom of God.
Yet consider what the man David was like in the past. He was a polygamist…he had many wives. He committed adultery…he took Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite. He was a thief…he stole another man’s wife. He was greedy…he wanted another man’s wife when he already had many of his own. All these things were true of him then. And this was long after his relationship with God was established. Yet God forgave him of all these things.
Now when David is raised from the dead and takes his place as a prince over Israel, none of these things will be true of him. Though in his past reign he might have messed up big time, in the future, when he is in God’s government, he will never do any of these things. There will be no “Bathsheba” in David’s future, no Uriah, none of these sins. David will reign righteously, as will all God’s governors. That is what I Corinthians 6 is assuring us. If it was telling us no one who did these things in this life will be in the kingdom…well, David certainly wouldn’t be, either!
“And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. And he said to it,”May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once.” -Matthew 21:19
“On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. And he said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it.” -Mark 11:12-14
“As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” -Mark 11:20,21
“And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’
And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.” -Luke 13:6-9
I remember once some made a connection to the fig tree and a person producing fruit. If fruit was not produced, then it was not acceptable to God.
While it is true that God wants us to produce a Godly life in response to all He has done for us, if this person thought that is what these passages were talking about, he was wrong. This parable, and the cursing of the fig tree, had to do with the Lord Jesus’ relationship to Israel at the time He was walking on earth. Israel was a fig tree which God had planted, and from which He expected to find fruit. However, when Christ came, He found no fruit being produced, especially not by those who were ruling over Israel, who particularly hated and rejected Him. Though He gave them another chance, praying “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” on the cross, still they rejected those who preached to them in the Acts period. Thus, Christ utterly rejected the rulers and religious leaders who had rejected Him, and He set up His Own rulers: the apostles and those who served under them. The Pharisees, Sadducees, priests, and scribes were cut down. God considered them worthless as leaders. He instead planted His Own tree of the twelve and those Israelites who did believe and serve under them.
Ultimately, this has nothing to do with today, nothing to do with my salvation, nothing to do with your salvation, nothing to do with our bearing fruit. About all we can say about this is that God has done a lot for us, and He wants us to produce fruit for Him as well. But otherwise, nothing in this really applies directly to us today.
“For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be *taken away*. And *cast* the *worthless* servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’” -Matthew 25:29,30
This is from the Parable of the Talents. This person seems not to be maintaining his salvation if what he has is taken away, and he is cast out and considered worthless. And the gnashing of teeth does not sound like something that is being aloud to live in God’s presence even though they don’t have any rewards.
If you go to the book of Matthew to determine if you have any security in your salvation or not, you will definitely come out of it very insecure, for there is no security of salvation in Matthew. Yet Matthew was written about a period during which there was no such thing as being “in Christ.” It was written about God’s relationship with His Own people of Israel. It is not written about believers today.
Much nonsense has been taught about the Parable of the Talents, and it seems to stem from the unfortunate similarity between the Greek word “talentas” and our English word “talents.” The talent was simply a unit of money. One might call this parable “the Parable of the Money,” as that is what it is about. A talent was actually a typical year’s wage in Israel, so it was a large sum. Yet I have heard many of my brothers and sisters, when speaking of this parable, talk about using our “talents and abilities” for God. I hate to accuse my brethren of ignorance, but I am afraid I have to in this case. This is just plain wrong. This parable has nothing to do with our English word “talents.” It has nothing to do with “abilities.” One might as well point out that in Hebrew the word “El” means “God,” whereas in Spanish, “El” means “the.” “The” and “God” bear no similarity. This is just a coincidence. The same is true of the Greek and English words “talents.” This parable is not talking about “abilities.”
Remember that every single Israelite was born into a relationship with God. They were God’s servants by their very birth. Some were entrusted with more, and some with less. For example, many of the disciples were just common laborers, like fishermen. Yet when the Lord came and called them, they answered His call, and produced much fruit. Others in Israel had a much greater position. The religious leaders, for example, had much power and authority. Yet when the Lord came, they refused to listen to His call. There will yet come a day when every Israelite who has ever lived will be raised, and all will stand before the Lord Jesus to give an account of themselves. In that day, it will be found that some, like the disciples, have taken advantage of what God granted them to produce more. These will be blessed. On the other hand, some will have taken what the Lord gave them and simply squandered it, as did many of the religious leaders of Christ’s day. These will lose even what they had, and will be cast out of Israel altogether, and sent to their death and destruction.
The weeping stands for sorrow, and the gnashing of teeth for regret. This shows us the reaction of these unfaithful Israelites when they see their brothers and sisters entering into the glories of the kingdom of God, and realize that they are going to instead be cast out of it. It is not that they are saved but will enjoy no rewards. They lose everything because of their squandering of the privileges they were given as Israelites.
This has nothing to do with us today. We are not born into a nation of God’s servants. We have no such relationship by birth. This is not a situation that can be applied to us today.
“If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life–to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that* leads* to death; I do not say that one should pray for that.” -1 John 5:16
-This seems to say among believers that there is sin that leads to death.
And there was, absolutely. Acts 5:1-10 tells about two believers, Ananias and Sapphira, who committed such a sin, and were punished by immediate death. I Corinthians 11:30 also speaks of some in Corinth who had actually died for their dishonorable behavior. This has to do with the miracle of judgment that existed in the Acts period. God was setting things in order then, and when some, even believers, acted contrary to that order, they could be and were expelled from the kingdom by dying on the spot. I do not believe that this tells us for certain what will be their eternal fate, however. It just has to do with God punishing someone for a sin in this life.
You are also on more shaky ground if you try to determine if there was eternal security in the Acts period. I think there was, since there was such a thing as being “in Christ,” but it is more difficult to establish. The argument is not regarding the Acts period, however, but is regarding us today. In our case, I do not think there is any question.
By the way, I am well aware that many scholars believe in what I would call the “late John theory,” and think that 1 John was actually written after Acts 28:28. However, I believe that these are wrong, and that 1 John was actually one of the first books of the New Testament written, about the time of James. There is an “early John theory” that is somewhat out of vogue, but does exist. I ascribe to this. You can read this article on this: http://precepts.wordpress.com/2008/06/30/john-introduction/, and why I think the “later John” was a hoax, if you are interested.
“We know that everyone who has been born of God *does not keep on sinning*, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.” -1 John 5:18
A check of a few literal versions I looked at shows nothing about keeping on sinning, but just that one who has been born of God does not sin. However, the argument works either way, so it is not a big deal.
You have to understand what it means to be “born of God.” The word for “born” is a form of “gennao,” which translates literally to “generated” in English. When you are born, you are “generated” or produced by your parents. That is why we speak of one person in a lineage and their siblings as a “generation.”
Making this to be talking about being “born of God” instead of “generated of God” has led to much misunderstanding. The first time Christ used this figure, Nicodemus misunderstood, and tried to make it about entering again into the womb in John 3. However, the idea of being born of God is really of being generated by God.
Now again in the context of the Acts period, God was working powerfully through people to inspire them to do and say certain things. And there is one thing we can be sure of: when God generated actions or words on the part of His people, those things He generated were never sin. For example, if we asked, “Was Peter right in condemning Ananias and Sapphira to death?” there cannot be any question: he must have been, because he did it by the inspiration of God. God would not have generated sin in Peter by causing him to condemn Ananias and Sapphira when God didn’t want them condemned. When Peter acted by God’s generating power, then everything he did was correct. When Peter acted on his own, however, he could mess up, and he did, as we read in Galatians 2:11-21. He could mess up and sin here because he was not being generated by God in what he did in Antioch. When he was acting by inspiration, however, there is no way that he could sin. So the bottom line is that the work of God in someone’s life will never produce sin. There might still be sin in such a person’s life, but if so, it was not put there or caused by God. The generating work of God does not produce sin.
“And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we *keep his commandments*. Whoever says “I know him” but does *not* keep his commandments is a *liar*, and the truth is not in him, but whoever *keeps his word*, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may be sure that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” -1 John 2:3-6
-this one ties with the liar idea I mentioned earlier in Revelation
This has to do with “knowing Him” and “abiding in Him.” It is unfortunate that “knowing Christ” has come to mean the same thing as having saving faith in Him. Many claim saving faith in Christ who really know very little of Him beyond the few facts they need to know to truly believe. These do not really “know” Him in any very deep way, nor do they “abide in Him” with their lifestyle. I do not think this passage has anything to do with becoming a believer, but rather with living as a believer. Again, too, it is an Acts period book.
“And the world is passing a way along with its desires, but *whoever does the will of God abides forever*.” -1 John 2:17
The world was passing away, as it was slowly being swallowed up by the new world of the kingdom of God. However, that kingdom was postponed, and the wicked world did not pass away. However, when the kingdom does come, those who do the will of God will abide forever. Of this, there can be no doubt.
“*No one who abides in him keeps on sinning*; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. *Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil*, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning….*No one* born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning for he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.” 1 John 3:6-8a, 9-10.
There were people in the Acts period who were acting as God’s representatives, doing and saying things they were inspired to do and say by God. However, the devil was also active then, and there were those who were his agents who were claiming to act and speak for God. II Corinthians 11:12-15 talks about these, among other passages. John talks about them in II and III John, for that matter. It was easy for them to tell if someone was a child of the devil, however, if such a one committed sin while claiming to speak or act for God. If he did this, he was a child of the devil, not of God, for God would never generate sin in a person. That is what this passage is talking about.
“...whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that *no murderer* has eternal life abiding in him.” – 1 John 3:14b,15.
In John 17:20-23, Christ prays that those who believed in Him through the word of His disciples would all be one, as He and His Father were one. The Father granted this request, for all those who believed were of one heart and soul, and their hearts beat as one, Acts 2:44-47, Acts 4:32-35. God was creating a great unity, and He would allow no one to break it. Ananias and Sapphira threatened this unity by lying about their giving, and they were rewarded with death. How much more would one have died who actually dared to hate his brother at this time? God was actively working to create and maintain this unity then. He does not act to create such a unity today, so we have great division. At that time, it would have been impossible for these believers to hate their brothers. In our time, it is very possible for us to do so, just as it is very possible for us to be in disharmony. You cannot apply the rules of that time period to today.
“But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” -1 John 3:17,18
You are not loving like God loves if you see your brother or sister in need and do not care for them. But this is not talking about salvation.
“Whoever keeps his commandments abides in him, and he in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us. 1 John 3:24
Since I cannot see the Spirit, if this was how I wanted to know He abides in me, I would be left in terrible doubt. At that time, they all had miraculous evidence to prove that the Spirit was with them. Every believer had signs follow him to prove that he truly believed, Mark 16:17. No one has such miraculous evidence today. If this were true today, we would all be lost.
“Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” -1 John 4:8
God’s work in a person’s life WILL produce love. This love may not be perfect, all the time, or toward everyone, but it will be there.
“God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no *fear* in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For *fear has to do with punishment*, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” 1 John 4:16-18
This is a very good verse. If we understand the love of God towards us, then we will cease to be afraid of Him. If we still are afraid of God, then we have not matured in our understanding of His love. “Perfected” here has to do with maturity.
“If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” 1 John 4:20
Again, in the Acts period, God was miraculously producing love for the brothers in them. Any who did not love his brother was not where he should be before God. You are getting off track by trying to apply these things to today.
“For everyone who has been born of God overcomes (conquers?) the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” -1 John 5:5
The book of 1 John seems to overwhelmingly speak of how our deeds and actions are significant to whether or not we are actually saved. It doesn’t seem to leave room for the rewards/salvation idea in reference to obeying God that you mentioned in 2 Timothy.
The book of I John was not written to befuddled believers trying to puzzle out whether or not they were saved. Rather, it was written to those who had been personally taught and discipled by John, yet who now had been forced to leave him through the persecution of Saul after the death of Stephen. They were now leaders among the believers in other towns outside Jerusalem, and they were dealing with the issue of false teachers who were trying to come in and corrupt the brethren. They had to know how they could be sure that they were still where they needed to be, and they needed to know how to identify for certain these false teachers, so they could disregard what they were saying and warn those under them against their lies. John is giving them much help in this regard. Much of what he is saying is probably a repetition of things he had already taught them in lessons given face to face. The style of 1 John is very much that of a teacher speaking to his pupils.
“You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.” -James 2:24
This and other ideas within James seem to support the fact that we need to be doing something.
James sets forth the importance of the response in having faith. True faith is taking God at His Word and responding accordingly. When God told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, he needed to do more than mentally assent to what the Lord told him to do. He needed to show that he was willing to respond accordingly, and actually take Isaac and be willing to sacrifice him. God stopped him short of it, but he showed he was willing to do it. Faith is taking God at His Word and acting accordingly.
There are three possible responses demanded by faith. One is simply mental assent. For example, when we read that David had a son named Solomon, all we can do to respond to that is to just believe it. We file it away as a fact in our minds. There is nothing else we can do. The second response is a change of mind. For example, if I used to believe that the universe created itself billions of years ago through a giant explosion, and then I read in Genesis 1:1 that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, to believe that passage I need to change my mind. I have to think differently than I used to think. If I refuse to change my mind, I have not had faith. If I change my mind, then that is the response of faith. The third possible response is a change of behavior. For example, if I was in the habit of lying to others about things, and then I read in Ephesians 4:25, “Therefore, putting away lying, ‘Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,’ for we are members of one another,” a third type of response is necessary. That is, I need to change my behavior. If I continue lying, then I have not believed Ephesians 4:25. It doesn’t matter if I mentally assent to it, if I do not actually start to behave in accordance with it. Without a work, faith is dead, in this case.
This is what James is talking about. One cannot be delivered by faith without the proper response. For example, it does you little good to say, “I believe that Jesus Christ is God’s Son,” if you follow it up to say, “And I hate Him.” That is not the right response! What good was your faith if the response to it was wrong?
Many like to use James as a jumping-off point to say, “Salvation is by works, so I am saved by going to church, putting money in the offering plate, singing in the choir, and being a good person.” That is not what James means. Good works in the eyes of men are not the result of faith unless they are a response to what God has said.
The inter-relation between faith and works is made clearer by the question asked the Lord in John 6:28-29, and His response. “28. Then they said to Him, ‘What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?’ 29. Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.’” There is only one work that is THE work of God. That is to believe in Jesus Christ. This requires a proper response, as all faith does, but that is THE work of God.
“If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.” John 15:6
The Lord is comparing Himself to a vine here, and His disciples to the branches. Remember that one of His disciples at this point was Judas. Judas did not abide in the Lord, and when he left Him, he quickly withered and was destroyed. If we try to apply this whole idea to us today, however, we will quickly get off-track. The Lord was not describing the relationship of the believer today to Himself in this passage. Many have frustrated themselves with verse 7. This verse does not work today, as many have found out who tried to coerce God into giving them what they want. Verse 6 is not talking about us today, either.
“But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ The man was speechless. “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ “For many are invited, but few are chosen.” -Matthew 22:13,14 [NIV]
The wedding clothes were actually often provided for the guests by the host. That way, no one had to be ashamed of not having anything to wear, as all would be dressed alike. This man had no excuse for not being dressed in a wedding garment, since this was freely provided for him. His failure to wear these clothes was a willful neglect.
Someday, all of Israel will be gathered together in resurrection. At that time, only those who are dressed in the clothes of righteousness that God provides in Christ will be allowed into the kingdom. Those found not wearing Christ’s righteousness will be cast out of the kingdom, to their great sorrow and regret. This parable was spoken against the wicked Pharisees, who will be raised as Israelites in that day, and yet who will be cast out of the kingdom, to their great sorrow and regret. This passage has nothing to do with us today, unless it is the application that we, too, must be clothed in Christ’s righteousness in order to be accepted in God’s sight.