Matthew 22:14 reads, “For many are called, but few are chosen.” If God is sincere in this calling/invitation (and all would agree he is), then this passage proves the chosen (elect) are not a fixed number of people by name, but that many have the opportunity of being of the elect (called by the gospel, II Thessalonians 2:14), but are not chosen. Like Proverbs 1:24 (“I have called, and ye refused”), Matthew 22:14 implies we have a choice in the matter. And what separates the chosen/elect from the non-elect is meeting conditions (Matthew 25:32-46). Meeting God’s conditions of salvation does not earn our salvation; the death/blood of Christ does that (Ephesians 2:8-9). But our salvation is conditional nonetheless (II Thessalonians 1:8). God elects/chooses those who choose to meet his conditions (Revelation 22:14). Have you met God’s conditions for eternal life (Hebrews 5:9)?
Archive for September, 2011
On the subject of divorce and remarriage, notice Mark 6:17-18: For Herod himself had sent forth and laid hold upon John, and bound him in prison for Herodias’ sake, his brother Philip’s wife: for he had married her. For John had said unto Herod, It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’s wife.
The new covenant was not in force at this point, but one thing we can learn from this incident is that it is possible for a couple’s marriage to be “unlawful” scripturally. Most churches and those claiming to be Christians seem to have lost sight of this fact. The new testament defines for us in places like Matthew 19:9 and Romans 7:2-3 what a lawful marriage is and what an unlawful marriage is, but the great majority just completely ignore it. They divorce and remarry and divorce and remarry, and then run merrily along as if they are living a faithful Christian life. All the while they are living in adultery in God’s sight. And the shame of it all is that 99% percent of the congregations just allow this to go on unchecked. Have you noticed that most religious people only follow the Bible when they agree with it?
Many of you may have read in the news recently former Presidential candidate Pat Robertson’s comments that it is okay to divorce a spouse because they have Alzheimer’s disease. Robertson was asked what advice a man should give to a friend who began seeing another woman after his wife started suffering from the incurable neurological disorder. Robertson answered, "I know it sounds cruel, but if he’s going to do something, he should divorce her and start all over again, but make sure she has custodial care and somebody looking after her" (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44530424/ns/health-alzheimers_disease).
Though Mr. Robertson is chairman of the Christian Broadcasting Network, his comments were anything but “CHRISTian.” Christ said in Matthew 19:9, “Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.” Romans 7:2-3 reads, “For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.” There is nothing ambiguous about those statements in regard to this question, is there?
Mr. Robertson is typical of 99% of preachers and non-clergy who claim to be Christians. They go by what they think is fair or right (Proverbs 14:12), instead of what the Lord actually says is right on a matter (John 8:32). This is true of this divorce issue and it is also true of many other issues touched on by God’s word.
Think about how many divorced and remarried people are in the congregation where you attend. And remember that if Pat Robertson and the congregation where you are don’t take what Jesus said on divorce seriously, then likely they don’t take what Jesus said on other issues seriously either.
"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand" (Jn. 10:27-29).
The Bible teaches that true, active believers in Jesus have security in their salvation by God’s power.
Yet, it is possible to stop listening to Jesus’ voice? To stop following Him? The Bible says it is possible for a saved person to stop listening and following Christ, or else these warnings are vain (Heb. 3:13, Jn. 6:66, Ja. 5:19).
We have security knowing nothing external in this evil world can separate us from God’s love (Rom 8:38-39), but we can selfishly choose to not keep ourselves in God’s love and forfeit our security in Christ (Jude 21,24).
The question of the security of the believer is not whether God can keep us secure, rather it is whether or not salvation is unconditional or conditional on man’s part.
The New Testament teaches that a saved believer can choose to turn away from Christ and go back into the world. "My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins" (Ja 5:19-20). The Bible affirms it is possible to "have fallen from grace" (Gal. 5:4). Hence, salvation is by grace but it is conditionally received.
Key Bible Facts about the Believer’s Security
1. Salvation by grace is conditionally received and retained by active faith in Jesus (Lk 8:11-15, Mk 13:13, Eph 2:8-10, Heb 5:9, Phil 2:12-13, Rev 2:10, 3:15-22). Jesus said, "Not everyone who says to Me, "Lord, Lord," will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father" (Matt. 7:21).
2. God allows human free-will choices after we are saved (Josh. 24:14-15, Deut. 30:19-20, 1 Cor. 10:12, 2 Pet. 1:8-11, 2:20-22, 2 Tim. 4:10, 1 Jn 3:15). Paul warns, "To him who thinks he stands, take heed lest he falls" (1 Cor. 10:12).
3. Satan is active in trying to destroy and seduce believers (1 Pet 5:8-9, 2 Cor 11:13-15, Ja 1:12-21). If Satan could not devour and destroy our soul, then these warnings would be pointless.
4. Bible warnings that salvation can be lost (Acts 8:18-24, Heb 3:12-4:1, 6:4-6, 10:26-31, 1 Cor 9:24-27). The Hebrew writer describes believers who have experienced all the blessings of salvation, "and then fallen away" (Heb 6:4-6). Why is it "impossible to renew them unto repentance" (Heb 6:6a)? There is nothing beyond these spiritual blessings to offer them, if they reject Christ, "since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to an open shame" (Heb. 6:6).
By trusting God’s gracious help in Christ, we will grow in grace and knowledge and have security in our salvation (2 Pet 1:3-11, 3:18). We can "stand firm" in the Lord, with the armor He supplies (Eph 6:10-13).
However, "once saved, always saved" is a false and deceptive doctrine of men that lulls the unsuspecting into a sense of false security. The unconditional security of the believer is blinding many to the truth of the believer’s responsibility to remain faithful to Christ.
Every religious practice must first pass this acid test that Jesus asked: “Where was it from? From heaven or from men?” (Matt 21:25). What is the origin of denominational churches?
The Standard Manual for Baptist Churches admitted, “In the apostolic age…no differing denominations existed” (Hiscox, p.22). Yet, “… now it is different.” Why? A newspaper’s “church page” lists many denominational churches and exhorts, “Attend the church of your choice this week.” However, where is the church of the Lord’s choice?
The Episcopal church had its inception from 1531-1539, almost 15 centuries after Jesus declared, “I will build My church” (Matt 16:18). Jesus promised to build only one church. King Henry VIII desperately wanted to divorce Catherine to marry Ann Boleyn. Yet, the Pope wouldn’t annul his marriage. Enraged, he severed ties with Rome and founded the Church of England, so he could legitimize his divorce and remarriage. Is this denomination’s origin from heaven or from men?
“It is noteworthy that John Wesley, the founder of Methodism…made legal arrangements before his death for the formation of the Methodist denomination, but chose himself to remain within the Church of England and was buried in the clerical garb of that church” (The Story of Methodism, p. 178). Why form another sect for others while remaining in the one founded by King Henry VIII?
1. The Problem: Denominationalism Endorses Human Religious Division. A dictionary says a denomination is the “act of naming; a class designation; a part of a whole; a religious sect.” The religious concept is a humanly organized group of churches less than the universal church. This endorses religious division and loyalty to human tradition.
When men say all the different churches are good, allowing men religion which suits themselves, I hear the earnest prayer of Jesus under the shadow of the cross: “that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me” (Jn 17:21). Imagine skeptical Thomas blurting out, “Are you crazy? It’ll never work!” Or Peter scornfully laughing, “They’ll never be one in your church!. Let people join whatever church suits them” What an irreverent thought!
Yet, the nightmare has come true. The division of hundreds of man-made denominational churches ignores Jesus’ impassioned plea, giving the world an excuse to not believe! Dr. Edwin Blum of Dallas Theological Seminary candidly wrote, “Admittedly the divided church is in many ways a scandal” (Bible Knowledge Commentary, p. 333).
Loyalty to human sectarianism diminishes the power of the cross. “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself” (Jn 12:32). If truly converted to the crucified Christ by obedience to the pure gospel, Christians “will hear My voice and there will be one flock and one shepherd” (Jn 10:16). Denominationalism distorts Jesus’ voice and scatters His flock to follow sectarian traditions. Denominationalism sets “aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition” (Mk 7:9).
This loyalty to human sectarianism is expressly forbidden by the apostle Paul. “Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment….Each of you says, `I am of Paul,’ or `I am of Apollos,’ or `I am of Cephas,’ or `I am of Christ.’ Is Christ divided?…” (1 Cor 1:10-13). . The division at carnal Corinth is today’s human denominationalism, which is contrary to Christ’s plan for unity (Jn 17:20-26)
2. The Solution: Be Simply Christians, Members Only of Christ’s One Church. If you simply obey the gospel in penitent faith to become a Christian (Mk 16:16, Acts 2:38, 22:16), to what denomination do you belong? The same one Peter, Paul, and the other early Christians belonged – none! “In obeying the truth” (1 Pet 1:22), the Lord adds you to His church, the one body of the saved (Acts 2:47, 1 Cor 10:13). Now, suppose you told your neighbors and friends and some then obeyed the same gospel. Since you’re all simply Christians, suppose you worship in your home and work as the early Christians did as a congregation (Acts 2:42, 20:7; Rom 16:5). To what denomination would this congregation belong? None!
“One can believe all truth and obey every commandment of God without belonging to any denomination….Since one can be a Christian without joining any denomination, then why join one? Would it not be wrong to join one, since denominationalism is division and division is wrong (1 Cor 1:10-13; Rom 16:17)? What then does it take to make one a member of a denomination? Believing truth will not make one a member of a denomination, because he can obey God on the outside….Since believing all truth and obeying all God’s commands will not put one in a denomination, then he must believe something different from the truth and do something that God had not commanded or leave off something that He has commanded, in order to become a member of a denomination” (Harris Dark, Gospel Sermons at the Mosque, pp. 159-160).
Jesus is “the head of the body, the church” (Col 1:18). There is only “one body” (Eph 4:4), not thousands of denominated bodies acceptable to God. Man-made religious division repudiates the New Testament ideal of undenominational devotion to Christ (2 Jn 9). Religious bodies not planted by God “will be uprooted” (Matt 15:13).
Even bitter racial hostility between Jew and Gentile didn’t excuse them to denominate into two separate churches, for Jesus’ death on the cross “made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of division” (Eph 2:14-16). This striving for the divine ideal enabled first century Christians to unite upon truth and overcome difficult differences. No excuse is good enough to perpetuate the way of man-made denominations. “Through your precepts I gain understanding, therefore I hate every false way” (Psa 119:104).
3. Seeking the Undenominational Way of Christ. Jesus calls us to hear His voice in the New Testament and to follow Him as simply Christians in His one flock, His undenominational church (Jn 10:16, 27). The Lord requires Christians to always be “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph 4:3). This ideal undenominational Christianity is appealing to sincere Bible students. Charles Spurgeon, noted Baptist preacher: “I say of the Baptist name, let it perish, but let Christ’s name last forever.” Martin Luther, religious reformer: “I pray you to leave my name alone; and not call yourselves Lutherans, but Christians….Cease …to cling to these party names and distinctions; away with all; and let us call ourselves only Christians after him from whom our doctrine comes.”
Today, like the early “churches of Christ” (Rom 16:16), we can be part of a local church “striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Phil 1:27). Will you follow Jesus as a Christian only, being only a member of His one “glorious church” (Eph 5:27)? Our eternal destiny depends upon it (Matt 7:21-23; 15:14).