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Monday, April 13, 2009

Nothing Can Pluck Me From His Hand! (well, except me?)

In the hymn “In Christ Alone,” which I love to sing (that is, if I can make it through), there are very crucial truths proclaimed. Among them is one found in this closing quartet of verses:
No power of hell, or scheme of man
Could ever pluck me from His hand
‘Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand
I would like to draw your attention to the first two lines above, which bring to mind several Biblical Truths from the Word of God:
John 10:27-30 “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, 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."

Romans 8:37-39 “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
These two references teach the two aforementioned lines from the hymn very well. Nothing can separate the sheep from the love of God in Jesus, and the sheep have eternal life and cannot be removed from the clutches of Christ or the Father. I firmly believe this and I owe it to my eyes being opened with Reformed theology. Unfortunately, the teaching we typically receive dismisses these truths. How many times have you heard someone tell you that you can lose your salvation? Probably often if you are in the Churches of Christ.

I do not believe true believers can lose their salvation and this belief comes with two clarifications:
1) Believing the Word of God for what it says. Jesus said that “no one will snatch them out of my hand” and “no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” Should we not believe this?
2) To answer all the questions about Scripture referencing those who “fall away,” or warning against it (most famous, Heb 6:4-8, for example); They may have tasted the gifts of Christian community, even been baptized or taken the Lord’s Supper, but if they fall away they only prove they have never been born again to begin with; Jesus never had them (if He had, Jesus says He will NOT let them go, doesn’t He?).

If we are to believe the Word I do not see how an Arminian or a semi-Pelagian (much less a Pelagian) can sing the last quartet of verses in “In Christ Alone” and mean it, or believe it. John 6:37-40 says, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And 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. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

If someone has eternity, that is has salvation, they would be of and in Jesus; and Jesus says in v.37 that He “will never cast out” whoever comes to Him; so how can anyone claim that someone can be “in Christ” yet by an act of the will remove themselves from Christ? They can’t really believe that nobody can pluck them from the Hand of God, because they believe that they can indeed pluck them from the Hand of God by themselves. What kind of security in Jesus is that? Did He die for your sins or didn’t He? Is it eternal rest or not? Why do some choose to limit the atonement and make the new covenant into a contract?

Philippians 2:12-13 says, "
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." In this Paul is not telling the Philippians to be fearful that they can never achieve salvation; but to live in such a way to show respect to the coming judgment. Day to day our relationship with God grows and it is God's mercy and grace that will see us through. And the "working out" is God working in us that we will and work for Him. This is security!

No, I do not believe that being secure in Christ means you can sin at will and prostitute the grace of God. If one claims to be born again, yet willingly and habitually practices sin they only prove that they are probably not born again and are not really Christian for they would be showing no respect to the coming judgment. Only those who turn from sin and toward God are in the pattern of eternal life. Only those who persevere in life to the end prove to be receivers of the gift of forgiveness and grace.

We should find security in the reformed (i.e. scriptural) view of salvation. If it were up to us and our own will to treat our salvation like the hokey pokey (I put my life all in, I put my life all out, I put my life all in and I shake it all about….) we would be scared stiff and the security of Christ, in my view, would be nil. However, with Jesus promising to not let His sheep go, that eternal life is a guarantee to those in Christ (for good), we can live life, truly pursuing by the power of the Spirit, true sanctification to the glory of God the Father. We know we will slip for we are still in corrupted flesh, but our security is not in my behavior alone but in Jesus Christ alone. By grace you have been saved (Eph 2:8). “
Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. (1 John 4:4) Thank God “He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.”

"In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,” (Eph 1:13) What were we sealed with the Holy Spirit for? “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” (Eph 4:30) So if you are a true believer you are sealed for the day of redemption. Or, can you be sealed, then unsealed? Are we or are we not “…by God’s power … being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Pet 1:5)?

When we slip, Jesus is there and my eternal security is not in question. If we didn’t have this promise, we couldn’t fight with any assurance of victory. But “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Rom 8:1)

Thanks be to God the Father in our Lord Jesus Christ for His gift of forgiveness, grace, faith, and the eternal security that rests within His hands!


9 comments:

  1. Amen! I was just talking about losing salvation with a friend last night. Well said!

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  2. Thanks for stopping in, Katie! I'm glad you found this post well. I pray you were encouraged. Stay tuned for more...

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  3. You do not know me - I stumbled upon your blog via internet search and I think you have a good blog here, but I have a few things to add. You said "They may have tasted the gifts of Christian community, even been baptized or taken the Lord’s Supper, but if they fall away they only prove they have never been born again to begin with; Jesus never had them (if He had, Jesus says He will NOT let them go, doesn’t He?)"

    but does the scripture not say that ALL sin and fall short of the grace of God? What about John 3:16? and Eph. 2? Our works having nothing to do with securing our eternal life with Jesus, and our works have nothing to do with losing that salvation. We will, of course, answer for all our deeds (and lack of deeds in some cases) when we get to heaven. We will be accountable. However, when Jesus died he took upon the sin of world. As far as I'm concerned, the sin of the world is not exclusive. It does not have a disclaimer, there are no exceptions. If you admit you are a sinner, that you need Jesus to save you - that cannot be taken from you. And we cannot say that "if they do this, they must not have been saved" - If you say that, do you then claim that you do not ever sin? You know you cant say this. Did you hate someone in your heart? Even for just a second? Did you look at someone who was not your spouse with lust? Did you tell a white lie? We all will live with sin for the rest of our lives, and God makes it very clear that he views all sin equally - so you, who sin accidentally, even if it is far less than some people - are labled as a sinner. The person who struggles with sin every day, who may deal with a thorn that they have not been able to overcome, even though they know its wrong - is labeled a sinner. You are a sinner, they are a sinner, that is all that God sees. And God made a payment for any sinner that would come to Him. You cannot see someones heart, so you cannot say they did not mean it when they made confession to Jesus. and THAT is all that matters.

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  4. Ashley: I had to put my comment in a post because it became too long. Sorry! You can see it here: http://jrsheets.blogspot.com/2009/12/response-to-comment-post.html

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  5. Wow... my brother Sheets, God Bless you man! As a former pentacostal/arminian I finally realized that Jesus alone saved me, not my "choice to accept" or freewill. In the end, nothing speaks louder than the truth of Gods word! Blessings1 my brother! -Chad in Utah!

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  6. I was so blessed while reading this that I could have used windshield wipers for my eyes!

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    1. It is the great liar that tries to convince people they can become "unsaved". I have been saved for many many years, but still can struggle with this when the great liar finds a new way to attack me.

      I have pruned many works of the flesh from my life, and I'm currently stumbling with what I need to prune next. This is when my Faith has been tested the hardest. The great liar can decieve with the Truth, so be always on the lookout, and test EVERYONE'S interpretation of Scripture, especially in these times we live in.

      God Bless you all through His Son Jesus The Christ!

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  7. Interesting post... I am at a complete loss as to what to think about this issue, however, and here's why.

    My husband is an atheist today. If fruits tell of the type of person you are, prior to 2008 he was most definitely a born-again Christian. We used to talk for hours about what God was doing in our lives, and he really helped me think deeper about my own faith. In 2008 he had a bad reaction to some headache pills, and lost all of his life-memories. He took a dose, went to sleep, and woke up not knowing his name, who his relatives were, ect. A completely clean slate. Over time, he's gained a lot of memories back, but the one thing that continues to be missing- and he has described it as "missing", as opposed to the other memories that he's not even aware of, is his relationship he had with God. He doesn't remember any of it. He would tell me, after we were married, that he remembered believing in God, and so he read the Bible again, and tried praying and whatnot, but for whatever reason something was just "missing." Since he declared himself an atheist and quit "searching for that piece" he claims it all just disappeared. He feels complete and happy, putting his faith securely in science, and not batting an eye.

    This completely baffles me. I do believe scripture, and the fact that nothing can pluck you from His hand-but if a previous child is lost and doesn't remember anything, then why would God hide from that child when the child searches for Him? What are your thoughts here? Hubby and I have talked about it, it was a very frequent discussion when he had just "come out" as an atheist, and it's such an interesting situation.

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    1. I wish good intentioned people would pay attention to the verse; no one can pluck you from the fathers hand. There are 3 entities in that verse.
      No one is everyone else but you
      you
      Father
      So, just as it is a choice to follow, it is a choice to fall away. It is your choice.
      Remember that it is the will of the father that all come to repentance. It is a choice.
      If the verse would of said " No one can be removed from the fathers hand", that would be a different story.

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