Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Disagreeing Sheep?

   Much time has passed and I apologize to all 3 of my followers :). It has been a crazy four months...or has it been 5? We had the sweetest toddler in our home for a time and let me say that getting back in the swing of having a toddler is not as easy as I thought. It was joyful though. After he left, we had several short respites that were a bit challenging.

  It was also nice to see that I had a comment on one of my posts from July...that is until I realized that it was not really a comment on what I had written. It seems someone thought it would be advantageous to spread their agenda using my little blog.

  Just to save you from having to click back to the old post, I will quote the comment here but if you want to drive up my page view count, feel free to go to here: Jesus is Not American but He Knows All His Sheep. This post was about addressing concerns at my old church and my letter to them that was taken out of context. My point was that we need to be diligent to worship God especially during our "worship" time at church. The commenter decided to take a different path.

 So, I decided that it would be error to let someone read it and think I agree. I will post his comment in bits and respond accordingly. It will be a sort of "sheep" debate. Hope you don't mind that my first post in the new year is a response to a comment. 

Do dead sheep have eternal security? Can sheep ever be lost? The favorite proof text of advocates for the erroneous doctrine of "once saved always saved" is John 10:27-28.

John 10:27-28 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me, 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand."

 That "favorite proof text" is quite compellingly clear that Christ will not lose any of those who are truly His sheep. The question of dead sheep having eternal security is strange but if you back up in John 10 to verses 25-26, you find out that sometimes what one thinks is a sheep is not. "Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep." Jesus' point, in context, was to confirm to those that wanted some special confirmation of who He was that they did not know Him. It does not take Jesus doing miracles, giving proof over and over for people to truly know Him. They hear His voice and they follow. Seems to imply a foreknowledge, doesn't it? 

"Jesus said His sheep hear is voice. Jesus told us all how to become a member of His flock. (Mark 16:16 He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved.....) If you have not believed and have not been baptized in water, then you have not listened to the voice of Jesus. There is only one way to become a sheep."

 So, again, we have a sniplet of a verse used as an argument, but what does the whole of Scripture say? You are right that there is only way and it is through Christ but Jesus preached belief and repentance as the way to salvation over and over. Baptism in water would not be needed since Christ finished the work. Why would a work of man be necessary? It is the baptism of the Holy Spirit into Christ that is necessary. Baptism in water is important because it is a proclamation that you believe and are committing yourself to the  body of the church and yes, it is imitating Christ. It was not an urgency to dunk people in water, it was an urgency to spread the Gospel and see people immersed in the Holy Spirit so that they may be changed. If water is necessary then woe to the thief on the cross who was supposed to be with Jesus that day after he died. Woe to those that repent and believe but die before being baptized. Christ is sufficient. It is His work that redeems and restores us. 

"Jesus said His sheep follow Him, He did not say that He would force them to become sheep.

Jesus said His sheep will be given eternal life and no one will snatch them from His hand.

No one can snatch you from the hand of Jesus, however, you can choose to leave His hand voluntarily."

 Again, you are right that Jesus does not force anyone to believe in Him but it is clear that He knows His sheep before they know Him.  One good example is Romans 8 and, in particularly, verse 29: "For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers." If you need more evidence on this, read Ephesians as well. That will blow your mind but let me state that the New Testament always has Old Testament back up. Jeremiah 1:5 comes to mind as one example: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” It is good that you agree that Jesus says that we cannot be snatched from His hand but it is a little disturbing that you follow that up with the belief that we can leave His hand voluntarily. That is just scary! If my salvation depends on my ability then I am in serious trouble. We all are if it depends on us. 

 The Bible has this to say about us in Romans 3, "as it is written: 'None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good,
not even one.' 'for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God...'"
I know that was some sniplets but I'll come back to the whole. The point right now is that we cannot depend on ourselves to stay in Christ's hand. We cannot try to find comfort in our own strength when this is not what Scripture teaches. We should not be so prideful to believe that we have some control in our redemption. Scripture says that we are "dead in our trespasses." Dead men have no ability. Salvation is a miracle in that it imparts Christ's life into the dead. My God is strong enough to save me AND sustain me. But, you are also cutting out the work of the Holy Spirit at the time of salvation but you do not have to take my testimony as Truth. 

  Let's go back to Romans 3: "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law." It is not our works. It is our faith in Christ's work, which again is proof that water immersion or sprinkling is not the crucial step. That word "propitiation" is one of my favorite words. It is beautiful. Christ became payment that appeased the wrath of God. What a tremendous sacrifice and what a terrible foolishness to cheapen it by insisting that getting wet adds to that payment. It is also insane to think that we can leave Christ's hand after He has started a work in us to make us righteous.

  God is not a God of contradictions. He would not give eternal life but make it temporary. And it would be temporary if it were contingent on our efforts. Here are a few more verses that are just beautifully rich in the Truth that Christ is able to sustain those that are His: John 5:24, Jude 1:24, Philippians 1:6.

"Matthew 10:22 You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.

Why would Jesus instruct His sheep to endure to the end, in order to be saved, if the sheep were once saved always saved? "

  Matthew 10:22 is not in context so it may seem that it implies that but let's get the full picture. It is always good to read the verse before and after to gain a better understanding. Jesus is talking to His disciples and He is sending them out. He is teaching them in Truth and wants them to fully understand what they are about to do and what it really entails. Verse 16: “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves." Now that is a scary picture. No sheep would want to be put amongst wolves but Christ tells them it is what they must do and He wants them to understand the reality of it. Verse 18: "When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour." It is not a matter of if a follower of Christ will encounter difficulty, it is when and Christ wants us to know how to respond. Many will claim to follow Christ, like Judas, but the fact is the one evidence that proves you truly belong to Christ is your endurance. The one that does not back down or give up even when things get difficult. Wouldn't it be confusing to the Apostles if there were some who were His but then decided not to be? Doesn't it seem more fitting to believe what the Bible says about there being some who appear to follow Him but are not His and that you will know them by their fruit? You watch someone long enough, you will be able to see if they truly are of Christ. These verses shed a lot of light on this area: John 8:31, 1 John 2:19, Matthew 7.

Acts 5:1-11.....3 But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back some of the price of the land? 4 .....You have not lied to men but to God."5 And as he heard these words, Ananias fell down and breathed his last. (Did this dead sheep, who lied to God, have eternal security?)

Acts 5:11 And great fear came over the whole church, and over all who heard of these things.(Why would the whole church be in fear because of two dead sheep, if all the sheep were once saved always saved?)"

  This example seems presumptuous. It seems we need to look at the whole picture again. Acts is the beginning of the church and really just a great picture of what the church should be. The Apostles are going out preaching the Gospel and amazing things are happening. People are being saved and everyone is astonished at the works of the Holy Spirit. You see this community of believers coming together and it is crossing all kinds of social, economic, gender, and ethnic barriers. It is incredible. This group of people start working together and caring for one another. One man in the church, Joseph, decides he will sell off property to give to the church. Impressive, right? Well, Ananias decides that he will do the same thing with a twist. He decides to keep back some of the money. He will look good in the church and make a little pocket change. His action in the church was motivated by self. Is that the fruit of one who loves the Lord? I think not. It was important for God to set the example in the birthing of the church. Purity in the church is not something God takes lightly. So, was Ananias truly a sheep or a wolf in sheep's clothing? 

  The second question seems a little naive. I mean who would not be scared if you found out someone dropped dead in the church when they did something? Come on, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. It sent a message and most assuredly quickly drove out those who were not true followers of Christ. The birth of the church was to glorify God and not self. I am sure the ones who stayed in the church felt great confidence in knowing that God is always holy and righteous and if He begins the work in you, He will finish it. 


1 Timothy 5:14-15 Therefore, I want younger widows to get married, bear children, keep house, and give the enemy no occasion for reproach; 15 for some have already turned aside to follow Satan.

Satan did not snatch these widows from the hand of Jesus, these sheep made a choice to follow Satan.

1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

The love of money can cause sheep to wander from the faith. Satan has no power to force people from the faith. Men have a choice.

1 Timothy 4:1 But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith.....

The Holy Spirit says some sheep will fall from the faith.
Who do you trust, the Holy Spirit or John Calvin?


  Sigh...this just seems to be more of the same argument that I feel has been adequately covered above. Salvation is the gift of God: Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:8. Once you get this gift, Christ starts a work in you. You are in the process of being made like Him, sanctified and justified by Him. Do you really think you can stop the process and decide to turn away? If He has made you new and brought you to life, do you really think you can go back to the old and be dead again? Look at the beautiful picture of this in John 3, specifically verse 18: "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." Or the wonderful story of the Samaritan woman in John 4, especially verse 14: "but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” Does that not speak to you in way that confirms that Christ is offering something that is incapable of being taken away even by your own means? 

  If not, let's end this by looking again at that "favorite proof text" with a little more of that chapter added in. John 10:24-30: "The Jews then gathered around Him, and were saying to Him, “How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly." Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me. But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep. 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. I and the Father are one."

  Jesus says that His sheep follow Him and then He gives them eternal life. Jesus gives it to them but here's the clincher, He says that they will never perish. Now, maybe I am wrong but I am thinking that if He gives them eternal life and follows it up with "they will never perish," He does not have a hidden clause that says, "unless they give it up." If it were possible to lose it, He would have been very  clear at that moment or He would be a deceiver. 

  It appears that it is not me who has neglected to trust that the Holy Spirit is powerful and does a work in us. And, although, I do admire John Calvin, it is not his work that I trust in for my salvation. Examine all things through Christ and through the whole of Scripture. I do thank you for allowing me to once again acknowledge how grateful I am that God is sovereign and powerful, that He has called me, and that He is working in me. 

   P.S. you may want to choose a more popular blog next time and I am declining the invitation to follow your blog. Oh, btw, is there any Scripture evidence on free will?

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