When Christian leaders are asked what their basic message is, often they reply, "I think that people need to know that God loves them." Well, it is important that we know this. Those who do not know Jesus need to know that though there is nothing they can do to earn salvation, God sent His Son to die for their sins and the sins of the whole world. It is God's will that all come to repentance. (IIPet. 3:9) Even those who know their sins have been forgiven need to come to a greater knowledge of the love of God. When we are first saved, we are just beginning our relationship with Jesus. We do not at first realize how much of our view of God is still legalistic. Over time, as we become more intimate with the Triune God, we cast off these legalistic notions.
Yet some want to take the phrase "God loves you" to mean that once we have begun our relationship with Jesus, we can be secure that there is no way we can lose our salvation. These are verses that are cited as proof of this position: "For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Rom 8: 38-39) This verse is taken as proof-positive that once we are saved, nothing can separate us from the love of God, even our own sin. But remember the parable of the rich man and Lazarus? (Because this is the only parable in which Jesus names one of the characters, many conclude that this is a true story.) When the rich man calls out to Abraham, does Abraham respond by calling him a miserable sinner? No. Abraham calls him "Son" (Luke 16:25) The NASB uses the word "Child." These are terms of love and affection. If Abraham has such a heart for one in hell, what do you think God's attitude toward this man is? God still loves the man even though it is too late for the man to repent. We should never confuse God's love for us with our current standing before Him. There are too many warnings in scripture for those of us who claim to follow Jesus to mistakenly believe that no matter what we do, we will always be in a forgiven state before God. Nor can we believe that when we do sin, God imputes His righteousness to us so that our sin is not even seen by God. Those who maintain that to question unconditional eternal security is to question the grace of God impose their own theology of grace upon God's Word.
It is also folly to believe that we are totally right with God if God is using us in any way. I have had the personal experience of being used by God when I was not only not walking with Him but when I was in a state of deliberate disobedience. The fact that God does not immediately judge us may give us a false security. Knowingly, or unknowingly, we could be like the tares in the field Jesus spoke of in the parable of the wheat and the tares. In the parable, the workers asked the master if they should uproot the tares. The master answers in the negative: "But he said, 'No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them.' " (Matt. 13: 29) Later, at harvest time, when the wheat was harvested, the tares were burned. If we wait too long to practice repentance as believers, an awful judgement awaits us. I once heard an evangelist warn that just because God uses us does not mean He approves of us. I hope deliberate disobedience or unforgiveness does not come between you and God. I also hope that you pray for me and my relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Saturday, August 4, 2007
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