doveraven02In our last message, a reader was sending me passages that he thought called into question the idea of eternal security, or that once you are saved, you are always saved. This time, he continues with yet more passages.

Reader: “For those *who live according to the flesh* set their *minds on the things of the flesh*, but those *who live according to the Spirit* set their minds *on the things of the Spirit*.  To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.  For the mind that is set on the flesh is *hostile* to God, for it does not *submit* to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.  Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.  You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit,* if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you.*  Anyone who *does not have* the  Spirit of Christ *does not belong* to him.”  -Romans 8:5-9 [ESV]

If a person does not submit to God, then they cannot humble themselves to God, who yearns jealously over their Spirit.  And God will give grace to the humble but to the scornful, he is scornful (Proverbs 3:34, James 4:6).  If a person sets his mind on the flesh, it seems that he cannot please God, and everything that we do without Jesus is worthless.

Romans was the last book written in the Acts period. It has many things to say about salvation, many of which still apply today. Some of the things in Romans are definitely focused upon the Acts period, however.

One who has the Spirit of Christ belongs to Him. This Spirit was granted to all Acts period believers. Signs followed all who believed, as Mark 16:15-18 clearly sets forth. Anyone who had no Spirit and no signs was not a true believer. These things do not apply to today. Though we do receive the Spirit when we believe, He seals us, but not in an open and demonstrable way, as was done in the Acts period.

I do not see that these verses have anything to do with duration of salvation. One either here has a mind set on the flesh or on the things of the Spirit. The mind set on the flesh is death, and the mind set on the Spirit is life. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God, but those who are in the Spirit can please Him. We receive the Spirit by being and believing in Jesus Christ, and the record God gave of Him. Therefore, it is possible for us to please Him if we set our minds on the things of the Spirit. This is what we should do. This is what we are expected to do. This passage has nothing to say about the consequences if we do not do this, however.

“The one who *rejects me* and *does not receive my words* has a judge; the word that I have spoken *will judge him* on the last day…And I know that his commandment is eternal life.  What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”  -John 12:48,50

Otis Q. Sellers mentions John 12:48 in his Seed and Bread #94: Generation from Above.  You should read it.  God’s seed that he plants in people will remain for judgment.  It will serve as a major contributing factor when a person gets judged.  John 12:50 mentions how His commandment is eternal life.  Now, his commandment is to love him and others right?  What if a person doesn’t follow this commandment?  Would not it be the opposite of eternal life?

I have read all of Mr. Sellers’ Seed and Bread issues.

Certainly the words Christ spoke will be the primary means of judgment in the day when judgment takes place. This is a true and important concept.

There can be no doubt about the importance that Christ placed upon loving God and loving your neighbor in His teaching. However, do you really want to try to be saved by following the commandments of Christ? How about this one? “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell what you have and give alms.” Luke 12:32-33a. Are you prepared to sell everything you have? Whom would you gives alms to? How about this one? ““If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” Luke 9:23. Since Christ is in heaven and you are on earth, how will you accomplish this? Or what about this command? “Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.” Are you ready to obey this command? How about this one? “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?” Matthew 6:25. Have you ever planned to get a job? Sought a career? Considered some means of earning a living? Is not this disobedience to this command?

You cannot just pick out what you consider to be Christ’s “primary” commandments. He said in Matthew 5:19. “Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” Christ’s commandments stand as a unit, down to the very least of them. Can you really keep all the commandments I listed above?

The opposite of eternal life is indeed eternal death. One who rejects Christ and does not receive His words will suffer this fate. However, receiving His words rightly divided is the only true way to receive them.

I do not believe that anyone who has believed the salvation-bringing message of God has rejected Christ and His words. This message has nothing to do with the commands I listed above. It has to do with believing the gospel of our salvation.

Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees.  *Every tree*therefore that *does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire*…His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into his barn, but *the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire*.”  Matthew 3:10,12

It seems that every tree, without exceptions, that does not bear fruit will be cut down and will be as chaff, which will burn in the unquenchable fire.  What about people that bear some fruit at some part of their lives, and then go “barren” for the rest of their lives?  Does what little fruit they did produce count?  Or, is it a proof to one’s faith that they will continuously bear fruit?  Or is this the wrong idea concerning this.

To those who responded to his message, John’s command was to repent and be baptized. Then, those who had two coats were supposed to give to those who had none. Those who had food were to do likewise. Those who were tax collectors were to collect only as much as was appointed to them. Those who were soldiers were to not misuse their positions. John’s message and his commands all had to do with Israel, and the situation at the time. What John was setting forth was not the gospel of our salvation today. John’s work was a preparatory work to Christ coming. “I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water.” John 1:31. We are not Israel, and we cannot be baptized by John. We can learn from his ministry, but we are no part of it.

As for the trees bearing fruit, remember what Christ said when He answered the question, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” His reply was “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” (John 6:28-29) Anyone who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ has borne the fruit that God is looking for. Remember, John was preaching to people who had not yet had any opportunity to know or believe in the Lord Jesus.

“I fear that when I come again my God may humble me before you, and *I may have to mourn over many of those who sinned earlier and have not repented (submitted?)* of the impurity, sexual immorality, and sensuality that they have practiced.”  -2 Corinthians 12:21

“I warned those who sinned before and all the others, and I warn them now while absent, as I did when present on my second visit, that if I come again * I will not spare them*–” -2 Corinthians 13:2

“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are *in* the faith.  Test yourselves.  Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?–*unless indeed you fail to meet the test!*   -2 Corinthians 13:5

I really don’t know what Paul means when he said that he will not spare them.  Not that I expect anyone else to really know either.  But, it seems to imply something really harsh.  Especially if they fail the test.

Remember that Paul was an apostle. He had all the gifts and power of one of God’s representatives on earth. In fact, he was the primary representative of God outside the land of Israel. As such, he had power such as Peter had to proclaim judgment against those believers who behaved disobediently before God. I believe that Romans 13:1-7 is talking about this power that the apostles had from God. Rome had never had an apostle like Paul visit them, and some were slandering the apostles to them. Paul assures them of the truth regarding the “higher powers,” the apostles, here. In verse 4, he proclaims what was true of him as well as the twelve, “For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.

One of the most ridiculous misinterpretations of Scripture ever made is that which makes this whole passage in Romans 13 to be speaking of human governments of today. What kind of lunacy would proclaim men like Hitler or Stalin to be “God’s minister to you for good”? These word are spoken of God’s apostles, and they were true of them to the letter. When Paul came to the Romans, he would come bearing the sword of God. If they did good, they had no reason to fear that sword. If they did evil, however, the apostle would execute wrath upon them, as Peter did with Ananias and Sapphira. This is what Paul is warning the Corinthians about. They were becoming proud, committing sin, and speaking against Paul and acting like he would not come to call them to account. When he came, he did not want to be forced to have to execute these people and mourn over their deaths. He is warning some that they need to straighten out their act, or they will be subject to punishment when he returns. If he comes and does not find them in submission to God, he will not spare them, and some will die for their sinful actions.

They were to test themselves to see if they really believed and were living out the truth. If they did not, then Jesus Christ did not live in them. This does not necessarily have to do with salvation, although it could. We certainly need to test that we believe the truth that God says we must believe to be saved. But there are many things we must test ourselves regarding using the Word of God, and find that we were previously not believing what the Bible says is truth. This has happened to me multiple times.

“For it is *impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened**, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come,* *if they then fall away*, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God* to their own harm* and holding him up to contempt.”  -Hebrews 6:4-6

I know that this is in the Acts Period.  However, this has a list. As far as the impossibility to restore again, does it mean that the impossible only implies people who have experienced every single thing on this list, or can it also apply to people that maybe only experienced one thing such as “tasted the goodness of the word of God”?  I don’t think I have tasted the heavenly gift or the powers of the age to come though.  But it’s a definite maybe on the others within the list.

A “definite maybe”? I don’t think there is such a thing.

In the Acts period, the Lord was working in such a way that people would be clearly enlightened to the truth. When they saw miracles worked, or perhaps, if they were ill, even had miracles worked upon them, they had tasted of the heavenly gift, and had shared in holy spirit (or holy power, in this case, not the Person). They had heard and seen demonstrated (when they saw the miracles) the truth of the gospel, and thus had tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the eon to come. If, after all this, they fell away and utterly rejected the truth, it was impossible to renew them to submission at that point. They were not deceived, they did not have any doubts, they KNEW that this was the truth, they KNEW that this was God, and they KNOWING rejected it. Thus, there was nothing more that could be done for them. God would not degrade His word by presenting it to them once again. They have with full knowledge of what they are doing agreed with those who put Christ on the cross (although those who actually put Him there did NOT know what they were doing.) Thus, they show contempt for Christ, and God will deal with them no longer. This is not anything that anyone has experienced today, or a situation that anyone could find himself in today. We have definitely not experienced any of these things.

“Enter by the narrow gate.  For the gate *is wide and the way is easy* that leads to *destruction*, and those who enter by it *are many*.  For the gate *is narrow and the way is hard* that *leads to life*, and those who find it are *few*.”  -Matthew 7:12-14

Only few take the narrow path that leads to life.

This is very true. The ways of God are not the ways of human beings. Few find the truth path of God. Fewer still are willing to take it. Once one has found the path, though, he can speak with great confidence that he is on the road to life.

So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.  A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.  Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. -Matthew 7:17-20

Once again there is the “Every” idea.

Again, Matthew is a book that is dominated by Israel and kingdom rules. You will not find a description of conditions today in Matthew. While Christ was on earth, God was demanding fruit. Men like the rebellious Pharisees and scribes refused to bear fruit. Thus, in the Acts period, God replaced them with His apostles. He no longer considered these men as the government of Israel, though Rome might have still considered them that. In God’s sight, they were cut down, and when the final gathering of Israel takes place, these men will be removed from it and destroyed.

“*Not everyone* who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many might works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'”  -Matthew 7:21-23

Lawlessness is pertinent in reference to 1 John 3:4 I think.  I wonder who these people are that are crying, “Lord, Lord”.  Whoever they are, Christ must not be in them.  And, him being in them must be evident with their fruit.

Again, you are working from Matthew here. Yet I think there are definitely those in our day who are like this. Just look at the TV evangelists, and I think you will find quite a few among them who have been constantly crying “Lord, Lord,” and yet will be found never to have known Him at all. I am not saying that they are all that way, but I cannot help but think that an unfortunate number of them are.

Remember what Christ said about the work of God in John 6:29. This is how we do the will of the Father.

In Galatians 5:22 we know that fruit is of the Holy Spirit.  However, does fruit also mean “evangelization” of people in some contexts?  Does it change with even more variety depending on the context?

Huh? I’m afraid I am not with you here. The fruit of the Spirit is the outcome of having Him in your life. His work will naturally produce these things. Fruit is how we recognize a believer, not how God does. Many people, we have to shrug our shoulders and say, “I just don’t know.” For some, however, the fruit makes it obvious. Our identifying someone as a believer is not the same as them being a believer, however. I don’t think fruit means evangelization of people.

“Whoever is not with me *is against* me, and whoever wit*does not gather* *with me scatters*.  Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but *the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. *  And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever *speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven*, either in this age *or the age to come*.”  Matthew 12:30-32

-What is blasphemy against the Spirit?  It mentions speaking against the Holy Spirit as an answer, however I think it might involve more. About a year ago, I came upon this verse, and it really bothered me.  What if I have done this?  Then, to console me, someone told me that it was a way of life, of denying the Spirit.  It would be a permanent lifestyle that this verse refers to, not if you slip up or in any case, are searching for the Lord with all your actions, even if it takes time to change things in your life. However, I am still not one hundred percent sure on everything concerning these verses.  It also scares me because it says, “the age to come.”  To me, that either implies the time period that Jesus walked they earth and then the Acts period; or, the Acts period to the dispensation of Grace; or, that meant from when he said that for eternity, which includes now.  Which to me, seems to say that this still exists as a possibility for someone not to attain life, when they were once sealed for it.  

The context of this passage is extremely important in order to understand what it is talking about. In Matthew 12:22-29, we read,

22 Then one was brought to Him who was demon-possessed, blind and mute; and He healed him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw. 23 And all the multitudes were amazed and said, “Could this be the Son of David?”
24 Now when the Pharisees heard it they said, “This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.”
25 But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. 26 If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? 27 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. 28 But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29 Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house.

The Pharisees saw the Lord casting out a demon, something which was a manifest action of the Holy Spirit working through Him. Yet in spite of the fact that this was clearly the work of God, they instead attributed it to Satan, calling him “Beelzebub,” the lord of the dunghill, one of their names for Satan. The Lord points out to them the foolishness of their argument. No house divided against itself can stand. If Satan casts out Satan, then he must be divided against himself. This makes no sense. Then Christ goes on to speak of the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. That is what these Pharisees had just done. This does not mean that they said, “Curse the Holy Spirit,” or something like that. Rather, they had seen the Holy Spirit do a plain and manifest work of God, and they had attributed that work to Satan. That is how they had blasphemed the Holy Spirit.

Now the Spirit had done this work to prove to these men that Christ was truly sent from God. They had rejected that work, and attributed the miracle to Satan. Christ then informs these men that they have committed a great sin. One could blaspheme the Son of Man and be forgiven, for He appeared just as an ordinary man, and just by looking at Him you could not tell the truth about Him. Yet what the Spirit had done was plain and obvious, and they had rejected it anyway. This was not something that God was willing to forgive. He would not forgive it now, and He would not forgive it in the aion to come, when these men would be resurrected along with all other Israelites and stand before God to receive their reward. At that time, the fact that these men blasphemed the Holy Spirit will be remembered, and they will not be forgiven, or be allowed to enter into the blessings that God has promised to the family of Israel since the time of Abraham. This sin of attributing the open and obvious work of God to Satan will keep them from enjoying the kingdom life to come.

I do not believe that anyone can commit blasphemy against the Holy Spirit today. Since the Spirit is not acting in open and obvious ways today, one cannot see that work and attribute it to Satan. Since we cannot do this, we cannot blaspheme the Holy Spirit, as Christ defines it here. If anyone thinks he has committed a sin that cannot be forgiven, I would point him to the Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior of sinners Who can and will forgive his sins, if He will only believe the record God gave us about Him.

“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit.  You brood of vipers!  How can you speak good, when you are evil?  For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.  The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil.  I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”   -Matthew 12:33-37

Here is the fruit idea again.  We are justified by our words.  Or, we are condemned by our words.  These apply to every word!  And another point is, that this can be tied to speaking a word against the Holy Spirit in the previous verses.  

It can be tied back to that, and back to what the word against the Holy Spirit is defined as earlier in the chapter, as I explained. These men were assigning good fruit (the casting out of a demon) to a bad tree (Satan,) and this makes no sense.

The day of judgment is the kingdom of God. At that time, everyone will be expected to speak in accordance with the rules of the kingdom. No one can just spout off whatever he feels like and get away with it. There is no freedom of speech in the kingdom. I do not believe that this means that everyone will have to answer for every single word they ever spoke in this life. There is no doubt that some things said will be taken into account. On the other hand, I don’t think our conversations about the weather or the latest basketball scores will be cross-examined. What Christ was talking about was the evil words these men had just spoken against Him and against the work of the Holy Spirit. This does not mean that God is going to take our salvation away because of some dumb thing we might have blurted out at some point without thinking.

“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit,”  -Luke 6:43

I think the repeat of this idea makes it very significant

This is true. The Pharisees were showing what kind of tree they were by the fruit they produced. Yet this is not the place to go to answer the question of how one is saved. We are not saved by producing fruit, unless that fruit is produced by doing THE work of God, which is believing on the One Whom He sent.
Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?  Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock.  And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.  But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation.  When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”  -Luke 6:46-49

This ties into the ‘Lord, Lord,’ aspect from a few of my verses ago; so, it has to do with hearing his word and doing them.  What happens eternally to the one who hears and does not do them?  

To hear the Lord’s words and to do them is the definition of faith. As we have discussed, faith is taking God at His word and responding accordingly. We do that today by believing the things written in the Word of God. Particularly, we do that by believing the truth recorded about Jesus Christ, God’s Son. If one has believed the record God gave of His Son, then he has heard the words of the Lord and done them already.

“The sower sows the word.  And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them.  And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy.  And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.  And others are the ones sown among thorns.  They are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.  But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”  -Mark 4:14-20

It seems that a lot of people can get the seed.  But, only a few will ever make it.  And, this is shown through its fruit.  So, people that don’t endure prove to be unfruitful.  And the unfruitful are also the chaff that get burned with unquenchable fire.  

I don’t know why you are getting a “few” out of this passage. The majority of the farmer’s seed would fall on the soil he had prepared to receive it. Only some of the seed would fall outside the bounds of his field. Yet this parable ultimately does not deal with numbers, but rather with the kinds of hearers.

If you have believed and submitted yourself to the word you have been given, then you have already proven yourself to be good soil. The only question now is how much fruit you are going to produce.

Again the connections you are making here are not good because you are applying things that are true of those who were in Israel and not true of those today who are in Christ. This passage is not talking about salvation, though salvation does come by hearing the gospel regarding Jesus Christ and believing it.