God intended for you to know, though it’s not so “one size fits all” simple, as some would have you believe.
In last week’s blog, I went into detail about scriptures that are not compatible with the doctrine known as “eternal security” or “once saved always saved” (Are you “eternally secure”?). As I said then, this was something I grew up believing, but now no longer can agree with because of what I see in the Word. What I remember thinking, during the time I did believe it, was that not believing it would leave a void that would produce more anxiety than I could deal with. How could a person abide the idea of “not knowing”?
I have found the opposite to be true. When I was in the denomination I grew up in, my understanding of the Godhead, salvation, faith, and assurance of eternal life was actually rather complex. There was so much that I was told. couldn’t be understood, but had to be taken on faith. As noted in a previous blog, What’s up with those Pentecostals?, my belief in what the Bible says about salvation today is much more simple – the Apostles got it right when they baptized in the name of Jesus, and people got the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in other tongues, and when we do what they did, we get what they got. That’s a “back to basics” theology that doesn’t rely on someone’s degree in Greek and Hebrew to explain. In God with His skin on?, the simplicity of the concept that God is One and his name is Jesus, which explains why baptism in Jesus’ name answers the commandment of Matthew 28:19-20, was addressed.
The fundamental difference in the two views on assurance of salvation begins with the process of getting “saved” to begin with. As noted above, salvation comes by repentance (being sorry for, asking forgiveness of, and actively turning away from sin), being baptized the way the Apostles commanded (in obedience to the Great Commission, they baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission, or removal/forgiveness, of sins) and then receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost (which always comes with the evidence of speaking with other tongues), as preached in Acts 2, Acts 8, Acts 10, and Acts 19 to Jews, Samaritans, Gentiles and some disciples who’d only received John’s baptism. Note that the first two elements, repentance and baptism, require us to act in obedience to God’s Word, and receiving the Holy Ghost requires action on God’s part: no one validly receives this gift without the action of God’s Spirit coming, and the evidence of tongues when his Spirit comes in to them. We obey by doing the first two steps, then God completes the process by putting his seal on our hearts, and filling us with his Spirit.
As for our ongoing walk with God, he left a plan in place by which saints, who have obeyed the Gospel could make it all the way in. Consider these scriptures:
1) 1 Corinthians 1:21 (KJV)
21For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
2) Ephesians 4:11-12 (KJV)
11And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
3) Hebrews 13:17-18 (KJV)
17Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.
4) Ephesians 5:25-26 (KJV)
25Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word…
God gave the ministry, including pastors, the burden and the calling to preach the Word of God that will save and perfect the saints given to their charge. When we hear preaching, with a heart to receive it (which is under our control), we feel convicted of sin if it’s in our hearts. When we pray about what we’ve heard, repenting and asking God to cleanse us and keep us from committing that sin again, His Spirit washes us clean and fills us all over again with the Holy Ghost, as we speak in tongues again, with all the joy and peace only he can give.
If we submit ourselves to the plan of God and the ministry God gives us (that is, those who preach the message the Apostles preached) and then we obey what is preached (not being a forgetful hearer of the word), we can be ready to meet God when he comes back or calls us to come home. What will be preached that we need to respond to after we’re in the faith?
5) Hebrews 12:14-15 (KJV)
14Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:
15Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;
6) 2 Corinthians 13:5 (KJV)
5Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?
7) 2 John 13 (KJV) Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward
There is following to be done (of holiness and peace with all men), diligent looking to ourselves (that we don’t fail the grace if God or let bitterness spring up in our hearts, or lose the things we have wrought or done for God), examining and proving ourselves whether we be in the faith, among other things.
This salvation requires maintenance, like our human bodies (we have to feed them, keep them clean, give them rest, exercise them, etc.) or any other living thing or mechanical thing that’s going to continue to be useful. If neglected, it dies or breaks down. If diligence is given, it will last a lifetime, and in the case of our souls, be ready for eternity.
God wants us to be saved and to be right with him on an ongoing basis and he made a way for that to be done. Keeping a right spirit toward God and his Word and a having made up mind to live for God, no matter what it takes, hearing the preached Word and obeying it, will keep us “in the faith”, and ready to meet God.