Tuesday, 1 August 2017

DON'T MAKE JESUS AND PAUL LOOK LIKE FOOLS

Two passages on endurance and perseverance we mustn't ignore in these end times

                                                                         
In the Olivet Discourse, Jesus warned true believers that they have to endure end time persecution, deception and lawlessness in order that they might be saved.

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved."
(Matthew 24:9-13).

Our Master knows that some will endure but many will fall away during the end times. And because the latter is likely, He issued the warning to His true disciples.

Therefore, if we say all true believers will definitely endure to the end, even in difficult times, like what fans of eternal security (One Saved, Always Saved, OSAS) would say, we will make Jesus look like a fool.

Only some believers will endure till the end and be saved, according to Matthew 24:13. Other believers who fall away are not saved and, thus, OSAS is not valid. 


                                                                      
Notice that, in this Olivet Discourse, Jesus was addressing true believers (Peter, James, John and Andrew), not false believers who were not saved in the first place (Mark 13:3).

If believers are already saved no matter what happens (according to OSAS), why did Jesus warn believers to endure in order to be saved?


                                                                 
Either OSAS is correct or Jesus is telling the truth. Now, would you take your stand behind Jesus or OSAS (eternal security)?

Secondly, the apostle Paul exhorts believers to watch our life and doctrine. “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Timothy 4:16).


                                                                        
What does Paul’s warning in 1 Timothy 4:16 mean? If believers willfully continue living in sin, get deceived by heresy, or fail to hold fast to righteousness and correct doctrine, their eternal security may be undermined. Also, members of the flock taught by false teachers may also suffer the same fate. Persevering in our life and doctrine will ensure salvation for us and our hearers.

Why would Paul tell us to watch our life and doctrine to ensure that we remain saved if all believers definitely make it to heaven (according to OSAS)?

If we say that all believers will definitely get to heaven, whether we are faithful or not, like what fans of eternal security (OSAS) would say, we will make Paul look like a fool.

Elsewhere, Paul makes it clear that it is possible to believe in vain if we do not hold fast to what we believe (1 Corinthians 15:1-2). He also tells us that one day we will be presented holy and blameless before God, provided we continue to be steadfast in our faith (Colossians 1:22-23). Thus, inheriting salvation is conditional upon our faithfulness.

Finally, let’s consider other passages that conflict with the concept of eternal security. These passages carry the harsh message that it is possible to be ‘cast aside’, ‘cut off’ and ‘blotted out’.

Jesus warned his disciples about the dreadful consequences of falling away. In John chapter 15, an allegory about the vine (Jesus) and the branches (believers), to abide in the vine means to be united to Jesus, to rely on Him and continue obeying his commands. Those who do not abide in Christ are cast aside, left to wither, and thrown into the fire to be burned (John 15: 5-8).

Paul warned Gentile believers that they should not think that God favours them over the Jews. If they (Gentiles) fall away, they will be judged, just like the Jews who rejected Christ as God is impartial. “Consider God’s kindness and severity: severity toward those who have fallen but God’s kindness toward you—if you remain in His kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off” (Romans 11:22).

In the message to the church at Sardis, believers who overcome will not have their names blotted out from the book of life (Revelation 3:5). That means, for those who fail to overcome, the possibility of being blotted out does exist. If this is not the intended meaning, the rendition of the verse would have been: No matter what happens, whether you overcome or not, your names are forever inscribed in the book of life.

                                                                        
To conclude, Jesus and Paul made it clear that to remain saved we have to endure till the end, and watch our life and doctrine. That surely debunks eternal security.

If we believe in eternal security, we will have to ignore or discount these TWO passages: 
Matthew 24:9-13, making Jesus look like a fool  and 1Timothy 4:16, making Paul look like a fool.

These two passages also cast huge doubts on the popular belief that we inherit salvation immediately when we make a faith decision to follow Christ or say the sinner’s prayer—without any need to endure or persevere. http://bit.ly/2k279C4

MAIN PASSAGES

Jesus warned true believers that we have to endure end time persecution, deception and lawlessness in order that we might be saved:
“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved."
(Matthew 24:9-13)

Paul taught that true believers must watch our life and doctrine, and persevere in them, to ensure that we remain saved:
Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.
Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.
(1 Timothy 4:16)

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THE GREAT FALLING AWAY
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BRACING FOR TOUGH TIMES
Many will lose faith in God during these perilous and tumultuous end times. Is this is a fact or a figment of someone’s imagination?

IT TAKES TWO TO TANGO
God may not leave us but we can walk away from God. It takes two to tango.

IS CALVIN CORRECT?
John Calvin, the great reformer, believed that Christians can never lose their salvation. That is, Once Saved, Always Saved (OSAS). Is he correct?

RAPTURE BEFORE TRIBULATION?
Can believers rest in the security that we will be raptured before the Great Tribulation? Let us re-examine first-hand the passages on the rapture.

EXTERNAL LINKS

ONCE SAVED, ALWAYS SAVED?
"The challenge I have with this teaching—ONCE SAVED, ALWAYS SAVED (OSAS)—is its failure to interpret individual passages honestly that disagree with this particular system. For example, Hebrews 6:1-8 and 10:24-29 clearly teach that people, after receiving the saving knowledge of Christ, can fall away and lose their salvation. Second Peter 2:20-22 and James 5:19-20 are as clear as tar on snow that a believer can fall away and once again be called sinners who have to be restored."
 —   Joseph Mattera, Presiding Bishop of Christ Covenant Coalition and Overseeing Bishop of Resurrection Church in New York. 

CAN BELIEVERS LOSE THEIR SALVATION?
Listen to this balanced seasoned teacher, David Pawson. A must-watch video.
He is able to keep us in the faith AND we are to keep ourselves in His love.
If we keep ourselves in the love of God, He keeps what we have committed to Him.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

THE WEDDING FEAST

Are we prepared for the greatest wedding feast of all?

                                                                       
                                                   Photo by Sweet Ice Cream Photography on Unsplash

Metaphors and imagery are being used in the Bible to portray man’s relationship with God. For example, we are like sheep to the Chief Shepherd and like children to our Heavenly Father.

The church is also seen as the bride of Christ. Paul wrote: “For I am jealous for you with the jealousy of God himself. I promised you as a pure bride to one husband—Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:2).

Thus, it is no surprise that Jesus took up the wedding theme to teach us what the kingdom of heaven is like. In one of His parables, the Parable of the Wedding Feast (Matthew 22: 1-14), the King (God) hosted a banquet for His son (Christ) and many people were invited to this celebration.

Israel was invited first. However, many in God’s favoured nation refused to come to this feast. Moreover, the king’s servants (prophets) who delivered the invitation were mistreated and even killed. So the invitation was thrown open to the Gentiles (Acts 13:46).

During the feast, the king noticed a man who was not wearing appropriate wedding clothes (Matthew 22:11). When asked why he failed to wear proper attire, he was speechless. Thus, he was promptly excluded from the feast and sent to the outer darkness (hell), the place where men weep and gnash their teeth (Matthew 22:12-13).

What does the wedding attire signify? It symbolises the garments of salvation and robe of righteousness, which only God can provide.


Only Christ’s blood can wash away our sins so that we get draped in pure white robes to join the wedding feast. Christ is the only way by which man can be reconciled to God. Jesus says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

How can man please a holy God? If we try to do good works, which are like filthy rags in God’s eyes (Isaiah 64:6), it will not meet with His approval. We are saved by grace through faith in Christ’s redemptive work on the cross, not by works (Ephesians 2: 8-9, Philippians 3:9).

At the end of the parable, Jesus remarked: “For many are invited, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22: 14). Though many have been given the opportunity to be saved, few actually take up God’s offer of salvation. How sad!

A similar scenario is presented in the last book of the Bible. One day, faithful believers will get invited to a wedding feast (Marriage Supper of the Lamb).

Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.
Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.”
(Revelation 19: 7-9)


Here, the church is seen once again as a pure Bride, devoted to one husband, Christ. 

But notice the contrast. In the earlier Parable of the Wedding Feast, the wedding attire is the robe of righteousness that God provides for believers—imputed righteousness. But in the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, the wedding attire is the righteous acts of the saints.

Do these two accounts in Matthew 22 and Revelation 19 contradict each other? No.

Faith is a word with broad ramifications. If a person claims he believes in Jesus but fails to make Him Lord in his life—and continues to willfully live in sin—his belief is fake, spurious and questionable. Without repentance and obedience, belief alone is empty. Genuine faith has to be evidenced by good works. Faith, by itself, without works, is dead (James 2:17, James 2:26).

“Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works” (James 2:21-22).

Note the other references in Revelation that emphasise the significance of wearing proper wedding attire—the righteous acts of the saints:

Church at Sardis told that if they are righteous and are able to overcome, they will be clad in white.
“You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.”
(Revelation 3:4-5).

Saints, who are dressed in white, washed in the Lamb’s blood, have overcome the Great Tribulation.
“These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
(Revelation 7: 14)

Eternal reward is reserved to those whose lives are characterised by good works.
“And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.
(Revelation 22:12)

If we have any doubt as to whether works, obedience and fruit-bearing are necessary for believers, this is quickly dispelled when we consider the final judgment when the faithful sheep are separated from the fruitless goats (Matthew 25: 31-46). The sheep are those who are kind and benevolent to those in need; their good works for other people are deemed as service to Christ.

Though we are not saved by doing good works, nevertheless good works are not redundant in the life of believers. Works prove that our faith is genuine.

Finally, to complete the wedding theme, we look into the Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13), where watchful waiting is contrasted with careless complacency.

The wise virgins, a picture of faithful believers, were watchful and waiting for the bridegroom, Christ, to return. They made sure they had sufficient oil (symbol of the Holy Spirit) in their lamps. When Christ suddenly arrived, they were allowed to attend the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.

On the other hand, the foolish virgins, who represent careless and complacent believers, did not have sufficient oil in their lamps. They were not eagerly expecting the bridegroom’s return. As a result, when Christ returned, the door was shut in their faces. They were excluded from the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. 

Is watchful preparation for Christ’s return something passive? No. It is active. Being watchful implies that we will faithfully do good works.

The two stories just before and after the Parable of the Ten Virgins speak volumes for active faith:
  • Faithful servants are supposed to mind the Master’s household well (Matthew 24: 45-51)  

  • Good stewards must utilise well the talents God entrusts to them (Matthew 25:14-30).

The following passage tells us that godly living will follow if we are watchful, waiting expectantly for Christ’s return:

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2:11-14).

To reiterate, here are the three main points related to the wedding feast:
  • In Parable of the Wedding Feast (Matthew 22: 1-14), the wedding attire is the robe of righteousness that God provides for believers—imputed righteousness. Whoever does not have this robe is excluded from the celebration—as one man discovered to his regret and consternation.

  • In the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19: 7-9), the wedding attire is the righteous acts of the saints (good works).

  • In the Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13), the conditions for entry to the wedding feast are spelled out. Only the wise virgins, who were watchful and waiting, with sufficient oil in their lamps, could rejoice with the bridegroom.


In summary, entrance to God’s kingdom is by grace—the righteousness that God provides through the cleansing blood of Christ—not by our good works.

But, lest we forget, having placed our trust in Christ, we have to prove that our faith is genuine by good works.


Let’s strive to enter by the narrow door (Luke 13: 24) and walk along the narrow and difficult path (Matthew 7:13-14) that leads to the kingdom of life.

“For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22: 14).

MAIN PASSAGES

PARABLE OF THE WEDDING FEAST (Matthew 22:1-14)

And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables and said: “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come. Again, he sent out other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding.”’ But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them. But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.’ So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests.
“But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
For many are called, but few are chosen.”

MARRIAGE SUPPER OF THE LAMB (Revelation 19: 7-9)

Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.

Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.”

POSTSCRIPT

Salvation by faith; good news and bad news

Though it is not clearly stated in the Parable of the Wedding Feast (Matthew 22: 1-14) that the wedding attire is that which God graciously provides (imputed righteousness based on faith in Christ), it is implied. This parable is about the Good News (Gospel), how man can gain entrance into God’s kingdom. Many have been invited to embrace it but many refused. After the Jews rejected Christ and His redemptive work on the cross, the invitation was thrown open to the Gentiles.

Since all have sinned and fall short of God’s standard (Romans 3:23), and since no one could possibly keep God’s law (Galatians 3:11), there was only one way, by which man could be reconciled to God and be saved from His wrath—by grace through faith.

Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” What’s more, the Scriptures looked forward to this time when God would make the Gentiles right in his sight because of their faith. God proclaimed this good news to Abraham long ago when he said, “All nations will be blessed through you.” So all who put their faith in Christ share the same blessing Abraham received because of his faith.
(Galatians 3:6, 8-9)

But the Good News also comes with a warning. Those who refuse to accept its terms (faith in Christ’s redemptive work on the cross) will have to face God’s judgment and wrath.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

(John 3: 16-18)

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