22 September 2016

Can salvation be lost?

Can a genuine Christian lose his or her salvation? Can a child of God end up in hell?

It all depends on God because he is the Saviour. From beginning to end, salvation is his work. Therefore we should rather ask if God can lose any of his chosen ones whom he knew and loved from eternity past.

Scripture teaches that the Father’s purpose will be accomplished. “Those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified” (Rom 8:30). God determined beforehand the glorious destiny of his people even before they existed.

Moreover, the Son of God came to earth to fulfil God’s eternal plan. He said: “this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day” (John 6:39). The Father gave all believers to Christ; he came to the world to redeem and give them a glorious and immortal body.

The Holy Spirit too works on behalf of all believers. They are told not to “grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Eph 4:30). Sadly sometimes they do grieve him by their sins, yet they are not cast away. The Spirit still protects them and brings them to the day of redemption, to their final glorious resurrection.

What shall we say about God’s salvation? Can the Father’s purposes be thwarted and brought to nothing? Can he predestine some to glory and yet end up damned? Can the Son of God fail in his mission? Can Jesus lose some even though the Father wills that he loses nothing? Can the Holy Spirit fail to seal believers to their final redemption?

But what about the believer’s free will? Can a Christian choose to be unsaved? No! His will has been freed from the bondage of sin, and he is freely attracted to the love of the Father. Hence he lives righteously, and even when he goes astray, he is disciplined and restored. The Father saves his children from their own pride and foolishness. The Father will glorify them whom he had predestined; the Son will not lose even one of his own, and the Spirit will bring them safely home.

A Christian will never lose his salvation. The triune God keeps him safe! I believe the Scriptures. I trust in God. I sincerely hope that you believe too.

1 September 2016

Once saved, always saved?

It is not my intention to discuss the question of ‘eternal security’ here. I am compelled to write about a much more important subject. One may have ‘assurance’ of salvation, and yet he may not be saved at all! There is such a thing as false assurance.

I am concerned about this issue for two reasons. First, I am worried about many evangelical Christians who are spiritually misguided. They presume to be saved and to be eternally secure but as a matter of fact they are still lost and in danger of the fire of hell. I am also very much concerned about the false impression that Catholics and other have of the evangelical message. The popular ‘gospel’ proclaimed in many evangelical circles is a caricature of the real one. I do not fault Catholics who oppose and reject it.

A young man, let’s call him Ben, attends an evangelistic meeting. He hears the message and responds to the altar call. He makes a decision for Christ and prays the sinner’s prayer. His heart is full of joy. Ben is told that since has placed his faith in Christ, he is now saved and that he has eternal life. He can be sure that, come what may, he will spend eternity in heaven. ‘Once saved, always saved,’ they tell him.

Or is it possible that Ben has been deceived?

Was the message that he heard the true gospel or some perversion of it (2 Cor 11:4)? Is the altar call and walking the aisle a biblical practice or merely a human tradition? Is salvation based on a human decision; does not the Bible explicitly teach that a person is not born again by the human will (John 1:13)? Can someone recite a prayer with his mouth while his heart is still unrepentant (Isa 29:13)? Is joy the certain proof of a genuine spiritual experience; are not human emotions excited by many other things (Luke 8:13)? Can his profession of faith be false (Matt 7:21)? What if he does not continue in the faith (Col 1:23)? What if his faith remains fruitless and devoid of good works (James 2:14)? What if he continues to love the world (1 John 2:15)? What if he continues to walk in darkness of sin, immorality and greed (I John 1:6)? What if he has no love for the brethren (I John 3:14)? And what if he refuses to walk in obedience to the commandments of the Lord (1 John 2:4)?

Ben’s assurance is a lie. He has no scriptural reason to consider himself saved; indeed he has many scriptural reasons to believe that he is not.

Dear friend, if you can identify yourself with Ben, please reconsider your spiritual condition before the Lord God. You are not ‘always saved’ – actually you were never saved. Once you were lost and in great danger; now you are worse off because you are deceived, thinking that all is well, when in fact you are still in your sins. Please do not dismiss this solemn warning. It would be a hopeless tragedy to hear Christ’s condemnation, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.”

(Gospel e-Letter - September 2016)

1 August 2016

The hour of our death

We don’t know when, but a time will come when we have to depart from this world. At that hour nothing but one thing is essential.

It will not matter how much wealth and possessions we had accumulated. We will leave all behind us. We must let go of everything - even our loved ones. With tears and sorrow we have to say our final goodbyes. Not even our health will matter anymore. Our bodies will crumble and fall.

Only one thing matters: our soul! For in the momentous hour our spirit will leave to meet our Maker. That hours marks the beginning of eternal bliss or everlasting woe.

Our eternal destiny depends solely on our relationship to God during this life. We must make a fundamental choice. Either we trust in God completely or we do not trust him at all. We cannot entrust our souls to anyone else. He alone is worthy of our wholehearted trust, confidence, obedience and adoration. He alone sent his beloved Son to reconcile us to himself, to forgive us all our sins, and to bring us to himself in glory.

The righteous live by faith in God. There is no other way to live. There righteous die by faith. They trust the Lord to take them home. At the hour of his death, the first Christian martyr, Stephen, called upon the name of his Saviour, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” He is now in heaven enjoying the sweet fellowship with his faithful Redeemer in whom he had trusted.

Do you entrust your soul to Christ now? Whose name will you call in that final hour?

(Gospel e-Letter - August 2016)

1 July 2016

God my Saviour

Mary trusted in God for salvation, just as she happily confessed in the Magnificat, “My spirit rejoices in God my Saviour” (Luke 1:48).

When our first father Adam sinned, the entire human race fell with him into sin. Together with David, we can all confess, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5). Similarly, the Apostle Paul taught that Adam’s sin had repercussions on all humanity: “one trespass led to condemnation for all men” (Romans 5:18). In Christian theology this is called “original sin.”

During church history it was debated whether Mary was tainted by original sin. Many Christians still believe that all people, including Mary, are conceived in sin. In the nineteenth century the Roman Catholic Church defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, namely that Mary was preserved from all stain of sin from the first moment of conception.

Even though there is disagreement on the time when Mary was redeemed, whether at conception or later on in her life, there is agreement within Christendom, including the Roman Catholic Church, that Mary was in fact redeemed by the grace of God and the merits of Jesus Christ (see Catechism, 491).

Mary needed redemption and so do we. Mary’s Saviour is also the Saviour of all who have recourse to God for mercy. Mary did not look to herself, to what she could do, to her own merits, or to some other creature. Mary trusted wholeheartedly in God for salvation.

We ought to do the same. Let us forget ourselves. Let us forget other creatures. Let us look up to heaven and entrust our souls to God. True, we have sinned, and we merit God’s wrath and judgement. Yet the same God sent his beloved Son Jesus, immaculately conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the virgin Mary, to give his life as a ransom for many - for his mother and for all those who like Mary trust in God to liberate them from sin.

Then we will also experience the same joy and gratitude that Mary expressed by the words, “My spirit rejoices in God my Saviour.”

(Gospel e-Letter - July 2016)

1 June 2016

My soul magnifies the Lord

Mary is blessed among women. She received the unique privilege of becoming the mother of the Messiah. No other woman in history has ever or can ever receive such an honour.

Yet when she opened her mouth, at the visitation of her relative Elizabeth, Mary did not speak about her own greatness and glory. The opening words of the Magnificat, “My soul magnifies the Lord,” reveal the passion and devotion of her heart to God.

She was marvelled at how God looked upon her, his servant, in her lowliness. Along with the great privilege, God also adorned Mary with a humble spirit. Her spiritual vision remained clear and unobscured by pride. She is lowly, God is exalted; she is a servant, God is the Lord over all. Her desire was the exultation of God’s holy name for the great things he had done for her.

This does not mean that we cannot admire Mary’s beautiful virtues, especially her humility, faith and obedience to her calling. In so doing we will not detract in the least from the glory of God. When I praise a work of art, I do not show any disrespect to the artist! On the contrary, I honour the artist by admiring his work. In the same way, Mary is God’s masterpiece, and when we joyfully call her blessed, we honour God who made her.

Mary’s beauty shines most brilliantly in the intention of her heart. Her sole desire was to glorify the Lord. We begin to know and understand Mary when we see her as our model and turn our eyes to heaven to magnify the Lord, just like she did.

Yet we will not follow in Mary’s steps unless we taste and see for ourselves that the Lord is good. We must first realise our own lowliness and nothingness, and experience the grace of salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. We must first receive the wonderful privilege of becoming servants of the blessed and sovereign Lord. Then, and only then, we would exalt the name of God for the great things he had done for us. The redeemed alone can honestly and joyfully sing, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord!’

(Gospel e-Letter - June 2016)