By Joseph Diop
Copyright © 2017 by Joseph Diop
Life can be very scary and uncertain sometimes. It can be very puzzling, especially in terms of our interplay with the LORD God our Father. All the drama, the intrigue, and the suspense of life can be summed up in the fact that we have a very sovereign God, who controls all things, and who seems to like to deal with and work through us creatures who are weak, frail, and finite. Sometimes we find that we are not even in control of the one thing we are always supposed to be in control of – our own behavior. Sometimes, we find ourselves in need of praying that prayer King David taught us, when he was fingered by the prophet Nathan for adultery and murder,
5 Behold, I was shaped in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me… 11Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy Holy Spirit from me. Psalm 51:5,11
So, the question is, at what point can a Christian know that his soul is secure and that he/she is bound for heaven in the end, no matter what? How do we escape that uneasy, unwelcome, and troubling feeling of eternal UNCERTAINTY, considering all our stumbling, misdeeds, shortfalls, and let’s be plain, all our sinfulness? By virtue of our own rotten human nature, no matter how hard we try, at times we just get tangled, twisted, and tossed about by sin. This was certainly Paul’s experience (Romans 7:7-25). So, let’s look very briefly at this issue from the two distinct points of view – God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility.
First, realize that God is sovereign in the affairs of salvation, as we dealt with in the previous article, “Pen Me In in the End…” http://wp.me/p4eK9Z-Bs. And, God is faithful. There is a doctrine floating around in the Christian camp called “Eternal Security,” which attempts to offer Christians escape from the pressures of uncertainty by reducing God’s part down to this simplistic formula, “Once Saved, Always Saved.” That statement falls short of the volume of the teachings of scripture however, simply because it does not start at the right point in the process. (So, the apostle Paul said, “Work out your own salvation with FEAR AND TREMBLING” Philippians 2:12. Therefore, that sense of uneasiness is not a dirty thing. It’s essential to the process. Scripture says, “The FEAR of the Lord is clean, enduring forever” Psalm 19:9). The scripture places the point of certainty much earlier in the process.
28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to HIS PURPOSE. 29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. Romans 28-30
So, the actual links in the process of salvation are:
GOD’S PURPOSE (1) → God’s foreknowledge (2) → God’s predestination (3) → God’s call (i.e., the preaching of the gospel) (4) → God’s justification (what we refer to as, getting “saved”) (5) → and, God’s glorification, which is the end result of the process (6).
The problem with “Eternal Security” as it is commonly presented, is that it presents the “salvation” of man, step five (5), as the root and foundation of the process and of our assurance, when there are four (4) earlier steps that are most decisive to the outcome. And, all those steps lie totally out of the scope of human knowledge or temporal confirmation. They fall wholly within the domain of God’s sovereignty and control, which we shall sum up under the heading of God’s “election.” And, that is why Peter said,
5 And beside this, giving ALL DILIGENCE, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge… 9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. 10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to MAKE YOUR [OWN] CALLING AND ELECTION SURE: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: 11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (1Peter 1:5-11 brackets mine)
So now secondly, we must realize that we are forever responsible to be DILIGENT as far as our soul’s ultimate salvation is concerned. At no point can we escape the drama of it all, by just taking our eternity for granted. God alone sees the end from the beginning, and knows what souls shall make it from the start of our salvation unto the end. Ultimately, in the realm of time to which we are confined, our assurance is a rooted in the hope and faith of the believing heart. Of that root system, Hebrews says,
“Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil [of eternity]” (Hebrews 6:19, brackets mine). Furthermore, Paul explains,
1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope: 5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. Romans 5:1-5
Ultimately then, assurance of salvation is negotiated between the individual human heart and the Spirit of God. It is a function of the enduring hope and faith of the heart, sustained and grown throughout time. That faith is maintained through grace by God’s eternal love, the bestowal and receipt of which is the very “PURPOSE” (Romans 8:28) for which we were created. That ‘purpose,’ as you recall, was step one (#1) of our salvation process. You may be sure that if you can CONNECT AT THE HEART LEVEL WITH THE LOVE OF GOD, and maintain that connection throughout all the many ups and downs of life, then YOU WILL most definitely BE SAVED.
The love of God will never, ever let you down. As 1Corinthians 13:8 assures us, “Love never fails.” Like King David, even in the most desperate of times, when we are utterly guilty and stained before God, that love connection in our hearts will make us come out with the most gracious prayers and supplications. Those, God will always recognize as being consistent with his own eternal grace and purpose. God will respond with downloads of the abundance of his steadfast love, and your heart will grow yet to another level of capacity to always believe in His faithfulness. May you be filled with grace, peace, and assurance as you grow and produce fruit in our heavenly Father’s love. Selah. Maranatha. Amen.