Jesus Christ is Lord of All

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Unity # 11: Assured of Our Inheritance

Unity # 11: Assured of Our Inheritance
Theme Song: The Golden City
Dear Father,
     I praise You that You are to be feared and exalted far above all other beings. Thank you that as we behold Your glory, we are transformed into the same Image. We want to know You and tobecome like You in Your righteous character. Please teach us to love and forgive one another until the end. Help us to do exactly as You would have us to do in the situations that each of us are in. Bring us back to humility and repentance when we err in pride. Feed Your starving people. Teach us to pray and to sow to please Your Spirit and not to grieve Him.
In Jesus Christ’s Name,

The salvation of the true sheep is secured. Those who never believe in Christ are not His sheep. The sheep hear His voice, He knows them, and they follow Him. He gives them eternal life and they will never perish and no one will snatch them out of His hand. The Father who gave the sheep to Christ is greater than all and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. The Father and Christ are One. (John 10:26-30) The sheep are overwhelming conquerors over all things through their Shepherd who loves them. Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, not any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 8:37-39)
As we will discuss further in this letter, true continuing in faith is incompatible with a life lived in continual unrepentant sin. As we discussed, sheep may go astray, even numerous times, but their Shepherd is intent on progressively sanctifying them. He uses His chosen discipline at His perfect timing to perfect the good work that He began in the sheep until the day of Christ Jesus (Phil 1:6). The God of peace Himself sanctifies them entirely and keeps their spirit, soul, and body preserved complete, without blame at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The One who calls the sheep is faithful and He also will bring it to pass. (1 Thess 5:23-24)As Jude’s doxology proclaims, “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy,  to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” (Jude 24-25) He confirms His sheep to the end, blameless in the day of their Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful to them and through Him they were called into fellowship with His Son. (1 Cor 1:8-9)
     Though the salvation of the true sheep is secured and once they have been born again, their salvation can never be lost, a matter we must address is the characteristics of a true sheep. For there are many who try to enter the narrow gate that leads to eternal life, and yet only a few find it (Luke 13:24). Not everyone who says, “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but it is he who does the will of the Father who is in heaven who will enter. On the day of judgment, many will question God saying, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your Name, and in Your Name cast out demons, and in Your Name perform many miracles?’ And He will declare to them that He never knew them. He will ask them to depart from Him, those who practice lawlessness. (Matt 7:21-23) Jesus also spoke of false prophets, who come in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.  But we are to know them by their fruit. Every good tree bear good fruit, and every bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. (Matt 7:15-20) ? Jesus said, “Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment” (John 5:28-29). Jesus was not saying that we are saved by our good works. Rather, because good deeds are an inevitable outcome of the life of someone under the forgiveness and grace of the New Covenant, it will be such that all who are under it will have done good deeds as a result of their Spirit-led love and obedience. Christ has become the source of eternal salvation to all those who obey Him (Heb 5:9).
Furthermore, the books of Hebrews and Peter describe that if someone experiences the heavenly gifts and partake of the Spirit and falls away and is overcome, there is no sacrifice for sin but only a fearful expectation of judgment. It would be better for people not to have known the way of righteousness than to have known it and turned their backs against it. (Heb 6:4-8, 2 Peter 2:17-22) It is clear that these people were not under the New Covenant that secures their continuing in holiness. For we know that we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end (Heb 3:14).
 Jesus told the Parable of the Sower to the people to explain the nature of true believers who persevere in their faith until the end of their lives. When the seeds, or the Word of God, fell beside the road, the birds came and ate them up. This represents people who hears the Word and do not understand it, and the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in their hearts. These people are not professing believers. The second soil was a rocky place that did not have much soil. When the seeds fell here, they immediately sprang up, but because they had no depth of soil, they were scorched when the sun rose and because they had no root, they withered away. This represents people who hear the Word and immediately receive it with joy, but they have no firm root. They are temporary and when affliction or persecution arises because of the Word, they immediately falls away. The third soil had many thorns which choked out the outgrowth of the seeds. This represents those who hears the Word, but the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the Word, and it become unfruitful. Finally the seeds that fall on the good soil yield a crop, some a hundred-fold, some sixty and some thirty. This represents those who hear and understand the Word, retain it with perseverance, and bear fruit. (Matt 13:3-9, 18-23) The good soil represents the hearts of true sheep. These are the true plants that have a deep root in a noble and good heart (Luke 8:15) and because there are authentic, they result in the bearing of fruit. Notice that the second and third types of soil did not lead to authentic plants which had roots and fruit. Though there may have been a similitude of faith in these people initially for a period of time, they were not born again and regenerated unto salvation by the New Covenant as the true sheep are.
From these teachings it is clear that there is a type of false “faith” that does not save. For even the demons believe and shudder (James 2:19) By this false faith, people may receive the Word with joy, spring up quickly, come in sheep’s clothing, prophesy, perform miracles, cast out demons, call Christ as their Lord, taste the heavenly gift, and partake of the Holy Spirit and yet not be saved. These people were never born again into the secure New Covenant granted to the sheep. When we observe such people turn away from their profession of faith here on earth and/or see them thrown into the fires on the dayof judgment, we know that it is not as though they lost their salvation, but they were never saved in the first place. As John writes, “They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us”. But the true sheep have the anointing from the Holy One and know the Truth. (1 John 2:19-21) Their faith is a good and perfect gift from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow (James 1:17, Eph 2:9). Because their faith is given by the Father Himself, it endures until the end and it results in obedience and increasing conformance to the Image of Christ. This true faith results in the salvation of the sheep under the New Covenant. The good works of the sheep authenticate their faith as true. Faith without the good works of obedience to Christ is false faith (James 2:26). For true saving faith in the Gospel and good works are inextricably tied together such that this faith will always result in obedience. Now, we will examine 10 Biblical tests of our faith. We truly are not saved by our good works, but by grace through faith (Rom 2:8). Rather, our good works are a direct and inevitable result of our salvation by grace through faith such that if these good works are not present in our lives to any degree, the Scriptures offer us no assurance of our salvation. Please let the Scriptures speak for themselves to your soul:
1.     Love for the Body of Christ (1 John 2:9-11, 3:13-20)
2.     The Spirit’s Seal (Rom 8:16, 1 John 4:13, 2 Cor 1:21-22, Rom 8:9)
3.     Walking in the Light and Fellowship with God (1 John 1:5-7)
4.     Ongoing Conviction of Sin and Repentance (1 John 1:8-10, Jer 3:12-14)
5.     Obedience to God’s Commands and Walking as Jesus Walked (1 John 2:3-6)
6.     Hatred of the Carnality of the World (1 John 2:15-17, 2 Cor 6:16-18)
7.     Hatred and Persecuted from the Wicked (John 15:18-19, Matt 10:22, 2 Cor 2:15-16, Luke 6:20-26)
8.     Lack of Continuation in Sin as a Life Practice (1 John 3:7-10, John 8:31-32)
9.     Being Trained by the Discipline of the Heavenly Father (Heb 12:5-8)
10.  Perseverance in Faith (Matt 10:22, Heb 3:14)
            God’s desire for His sheep is for them to be fully assured of His promises towards them. He does not want us to waver in unbelief, but to grow strong in faith, giving glory to God. We must be fully assured that what God had promised, He is able also to perform. (Rom 4:20-21) Indeed, we are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy because we are receiving the goal of our faith: the salvation of our souls (1 Peter 1:9). As we go through the Biblical tests of true faith, we are examining ourselves to see whether we are in the faith (2 Cor 13:5). Even the true sheep, because of the Spirit’s conviction of sin, will be reminded of areas in their lives where they need refinement. In the midst of guilt and slavery to sin, a professing Christian who has not been regenerated cannot have assurance of salvation based on the Word of God. In this case, self-examination may lead to saving repentance for unconverted sheep [i.e. appointed by God for eternal Life but not yet regenerated] as the Word of God and Spirit reveal to their souls the need for salvation and grant them a quickening of the spirit unto salvation. When the true sheep who have already been converted examine themselves with these Scriptures, they will find areas where they realize that they need the Spirit’s power and the Father’s discipline to overcome. The deepest desire of the sheep is to know and become like Christ, to put to death whatever belongs to their sinful nature (Col 3:5), to cleanse themselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit thus perfecting holiness in the fear of God, and to be holy as their Father is holy (1 Peter 1:16).
            Christ’s divine power grants the sheep everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called them by His own glory and excellence. By these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them we may become partakers of the Divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. For this reason we ought to apply all diligence to add to our faith moral excellence, and to our moral excellence, knowledge, and to our knowledge, self-control, and to our self-control, perseverance, and to our perseverance, Godliness, and to our Godliness, brotherly kindness, and to our brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are ours and are increasing, they render us neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. However, if we lack these qualities, as we would during a momentary straying period which we know will not continue in view of the Shepherd’s eternal Covenant, we are blind or short-sighted and have forgotten our purification from our former sins. When the regenerated true sheep are in the midst of a period of straying, they may lose their conscious assurance of salvation. The only way for us to regain our assurance is to return to our Savior and continue in the faith that we receive from God. (2 Peter 1:1-11) Those who continue to lack these qualities are not true sheep and were never purified from sin, though they profess to have experienced the work of the Gospel and were thus formerly purified in their own minds. We must continue to believe the Gospel, and with confidence, we must enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh. Since we have a great Priest over the house of God, we ought to draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. We must hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. (Heb 10:19-23) Even as we sin, we know that we have an Advocate with the Father (1 John 2:1), that if we confess our sins God is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9), and that there is sin that does not lead to death that we can be forgiven of as we return to the good walk with our Shepherd (1 John 5:16-17). If we hear the Spirit’s voice today, we must not grieve Him and harden our hearts as the unsaved do (Heb 3:15). As long as we have a chance, we must continue to willingly repent and pursue the increasing qualities of holiness described above. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble;  for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you. (2 Peter 1:10-11) God is faithful and just to perfect His people even through their apparent failures and to bring about sincere repentance in them.
     Until straying believers repent and continue in their belief in the Gospel, the Scriptures grant them no assurance of their salvation. But in the New Covenant, the Shepherd will not let the sheep remain in such a state.  True sheep are deeply miserable in the midst of sin until the Shepherd disciplines them and brings them back to obedience. For the sheep know that slavery to sin is shameful and yields no benefit, except death. The sheep who are truly freed from sin and enslaved to God, derive the benefits of knowing Christ, the result is sanctification, and the outcome is eternal Life. (Rom 6:20-23) These straying sheep have only one Master and they will return to Him. They will do so willingly as the Spirit moves their hearts.
When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;
my vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. Selah.
I acknowledged my sin to You,
and my iniquity I did not hide;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”;
and You forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah.
Therefore, let everyone who is godly pray to You in a time when You may be found;
surely in a flood of great waters they will not reach him.
You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble;
You surround me with songs of deliverance. Ps 32
     Our assurance of salvation comes completely from the secured and ordered New Covenant. The manner in which we maintain our assurance of salvation each day is to continue in our belief in the Gospel and to heed the Voice of the Spirit unto obedience. Even when our hearts condemn us, our love in deed and truth that God works in us causes us to be assured of our salvation because God is greater than our hearts and He knows all things: that we are His (1 John 3:19-20). Though at one time we were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in His body of Flesh by His death, in order to present us holy and blameless and above reproach before Him, if indeed we continue in the faith, stable and steadfast not shifting from the hope of the Gospel that we heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven. (Col 1:21-23). We are to press on to maturity (Heb 6:1), grow up into Him who is the Head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love (Eph 4:15-16), to walk in Him, having been rooted and now being built up in Him and established in our faith, just as we were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude (Col 2:6-7)
24 As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. 1 John 2
Love in Christ,

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