Hard Times Can Make You or Break You

Adversity—Burden or Bridge?

By Dr. Charles Stanley

Watch Adversity—Burden or Bridge? video.

Memory Verse: 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

Charles Stanley
Charles Stanley

I. Introduction: Adversity touches everyone sooner or later. Some believers crumble under the pressure of difficult times. They become so bitter and resentful towards God that they walk away from His calling on their lives. They might even resort to addictive behaviors in an attempt to escape pain. Others face similar challenges but have a totally different reaction. Instead of weakening them, trials make them stronger because they learn to depend more fully on the power of the Holy Spirit. Adversity can be either an overwhelming burden or a bridge to deeper relationship with God.

II. A Burden or a Bridge?

A. We can see tough times as a burden or a bridge.

1. A burden, spiritually speaking, is a heaviness that weighs us. We may feel weary or discouraged, without joy and peace.

2. A bridge, in contrast, is a way to rise above the difficulty and develop a deeper, more intimate relationship with God.

B. Two verses are the foundation of this bridge to greater intimacy with the Lord.

1. Psalm 103:19: “The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all.”

2. Romans 8:28: “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

III. Adversity as a Bridge in the Life of Paul

The life of Paul is one of the best examples of how adversity can act as a bridge to a closer relationship with God. Without the supernatural revelations the Lord gave him, we would have far less insight into living the day-to-day Christian life. But his closeness to the Father came only as the result of severe personal loss and hardship (Phil. 3:8,10). Through difficulty, he learned:

A. Contentment is possible in the midst of adversity. The apostle explained: “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am” (Phil. 4:11).

B. God provides supernatural strength in our weakness. Paul’s limitations allowed the Holy Spirit’s power to work through his life (2 Cor. 12:9-10).  

C. The Lord is the source for all our needs. When we fully rely on the Father, we can count on His provision (Phil. 4:19).

D. We can trust in the Lord’s faithfulness. Paul had learned to depend on the Lord to carry him through any trial (1 Cor. 10:13).

E. The Father values service more than our desires. Instead of satisfying Paul’s natural inclination toward comfort and ease, God sent adversity to prepare him for greater service (2 Cor. 12:7). The Lord prioritizes character development over comfort.

F. In difficult times, God will give us strength to proclaim the truth. Because Paul was imprisoned, the entire Praetorian guard heard the gospel (Phil. 1:13-15). The more adversity we face, the more effective our message will be to others.

G. We can treat everything as if it comes from God. The Lord uses all we experience, even the wrongs of others, for His purposes in our lives. If we can embrace the circumstances that come our way as an opportunity to grow, it prevents our trials from making us resentful.

H. We learn more about the Lord through trials. Suffering often is the stimulus to greater closeness with God.

I. Adversity prepares us to comfort others more effectively. From God‘s viewpoint, suffering prepares us to minister to others (2 Cor. 1:3-8).

J. God has a specific purpose for allowing adversity. Paul’s thorn was designed to keep him humble and dependent on God, despite the astounding spiritual revelations he had been given (2 Cor. 12:7).

K. We are to know joy in the midst of adversity. In Philippians 4:4, the apostle wrote, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!”

IV. Conclusion:

Most likely, you are experiencing some degree of adversity today. You can try to handle it using your own resources, or you can choose to see it as a path to deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. If you are a believer, the awesome power of the Holy Spirit is available to equip, transform, and carry you through any suffering. The bridge of adversity can take you to a place of indescribable closeness with the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

 

ADDITIONAL SPIRITUAL HELP FROM DR. STANLEY:

God’s Purpose for Adversity

By Dr. Charles Stanley

Have you ever wondered why the Lord allows tragedy, sickness, and other suffering in our lives? Part of the answer lies in the fact that we inhabit a fallen world; the sin of Adam and Eve altered God’s original creation. However, the good news is that God uses adversity to show us our profound need for Him.

The Old Testament saint Jacob experienced something that forever changed how he related to God. The Lord weakened him physically to strengthen him spiritually. In a similar way, God wants to use adversity in our lives to draw us into a closer relationship with Him.

Jacob’s Journey

Read Genesis 32:1-32.

  •  As Jacob traveled to the land of his parents, what troublesome news came to him (Gen 32:6-8)?
  •  Why would Jacob expect the worst from his brother? (See Genesis 27:30-42 if necessary.)
  • On a practical level, how did Jacob prepare to meet his brother (Gen. 32:4-8, Gen. 32:13-20)?
  • Jacob also turned to the Lord in prayer. Summarize each section of his petition (vv. 9-12).

Example: v. 9—Jacob reminded God of His promise to prosper him.
v. 10
v. 11
v. 12

  • From Jacob’s prayer, what can you learn about how to approach God regarding your own problems?

After Jacob sent his family away (v. 23), he wrestled with a mysterious man. At first, he may have thought he was fighting one of Esau’s men, but later, he says he saw God (v. 30). In a similar way, we sometimes have a hard time recognizing how the Lord is at work in adversity. That can happen when we are busy blaming other people, ourselves, or the Devil.

  • What difficulty are you facing right now?
  • Who or what do you have a tendency to blame for your problems?
  • What purpose might God have for your hardship?

As the fight continued, the man touched Jacob’s hip and dislocated it. This may have alerted Jacob to the fact that he was wrestling with a supernatural being. He determined to hold on until he received a blessing (v. 26).
When we are facing adversity, we may need to wrestle with God—that is, stay at the throne of grace and mercy until we have what we need from Him (Heb. 4:14-16).

  • In your time alone with God, do you tend to wait until you hear from Him or sense His comforting presence?  Why or why not?

Many scholars believe the man Jacob wrestled was the pre-incarnate Christ (Jesus before He was born as a baby). Others think Jacob fought an angel. Either way, this supernatural being changed the patriarch’s name.  Jacob literally means “heel catcher,” an idiomatic expression that meant “trickster” or “supplanter.” Israel means “he struggles with God” or perhaps “a prince with God.”

  • Jacob became the father of the 12 tribes of Israel. Why do you think it was important for him to have a new name?

After this incident, Jacob walked with a limp (Gen. 32:31). With a dislocated hip, he would have found it almost impossible to defend himself against Esau. Jacob was forced to depend completely on God’s ability to protect him.

  • What does Esau’s greeting show about his feelings toward Jacob (Gen. 33:4)?

Jacob learned that he could rely on God more completely when he was weak. This is the same lesson Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” taught him (2 Cor. 12:7-10). The apostle wrote, “I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong” (v. 10).

  • Give an example of a time when your weakness provided an opportunity to rely successfully on The Lord’s power.
  • How could your present adversity help you lean more fully on God?

As we depend on the Lord, we learn more about who He is. After God spoke to Job, revealing His character and incredible power, Job said, “I have heard of You . . . but now my eye sees You” (Job 42:5).

  • What new insight has hardship given to you about God or the Christian life?
  • Adversity shows us how much we lack spiritually. Give an example of a time when difficulty revealed your weaknesses and need for God.

Apart from the Father’s help, we can never handle all our problems, consistently resist temptation, or avoid bitterness. In fact, when we attempt to wage spiritual battles on our own, not only do we wander away from God, but we ultimately fail.

  • Jude 1:24 says that God “is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy.” According to this study, what is a believer’s role in handling problems, temptations, and suffering?

Prayer: Father, thank You for being willing to carry me through the challenges of life. Teach me to rely more on Your power rather than on my own strategies and coping abilities. Show me how You want to use the difficulties I face to draw me into a more intimate relationship with You. Amen.

Related Resources

SHALL NEVER PERISH: A BOOK REVIEW

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Here is a book review written by Dr. Robert L. Sumner, editor of The Biblical Evangelist.  Dr. Sumner is a skilled and gifted writer on spiritual matters and no where is his writing more pungent and helpful than when he is writing his review of a book.  After reading this review I thought it good to share with my readers and I especially wanted to call your attention to the discussion on REPENTANCE.  While brief, it is a wonderful study on that important Bible doctrine.  I doubt you would be able to find this material in such succinct and well stated and true to the Bible teaching anywhere else.  But here it is.  Dr. Sumner offers his paper free to those who wish to subscribe.  Go to: www.biblicalevangelism.org for more info.  You will find you can read the entire issue online and many of his back issues.  Always a wealth of spiritual resources, free.

Dr. Robert L. Sumner PixSHALL NEVER PERISH by Dennis M. Rokser; Grace Gospel Press, Duluth, MN; 5 Parts, 32 Chapters, 335 Pages; $19.95, Paper

This volume has the same title, Shall Never Perish, as a book by John Frederick Strombeck that helped this reviewer so tremendously as a young minister well over a half-century ago. As I recall now, Strombeck was a layman/businessman who financed it and two other books he had written – one was Grace and Truth: The True Relationship Between Law and Grace; and the other one, while I’ve forgotten the title, was, I believe, on prophecy – sending them free to ministers of the gospel. While I didn’t have a problem with security at that time, the good biblical study in Never helped strengthen my faith in the teaching. I believe Kregel later republished it.

This book will do the same for you!

If you weren’t sharp enough to know by the title that this deals with the believer’s eternal security in Christ, the subtitle will enlighten you, Is Salvation Forever or Can It be Lost? Rokser’s five major sections are Part I, “Identifying the Issue of Eternal Security”; Part II, “The Scriptural Support for Eternal Security”; Part III, “The Absolute Assurance of Eternal security”; Part IV, “The Consequences of Carnality”; and Part V, “Probing the Perplexing Passages.”

Up front the author defines what he means by eternal security: “Eternal security means that those who have been genuinely saved by God’s grace through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone shall never be in danger of God’s condemnation or loss of their salvation, but God’s grace and power keep them forever saved and secure.”

We agree totally with that evaluation.

Eternal security does not mean that every person who ever made a profession of faith in Christ, or got baptized, or joined a church is sure of Heaven. Of course not! It is only for those who have been truly born again.

Probably the main part of Rokser’s book is in the dozen chapters of Part II, where he evaluates in some detail the biblical statements guaranteeing to the child of God he ‘shall never perish.’ The Bible, of course, is the key. Most ‘losers’ (teaching you can lose salvation) base their main arguments on experience – they will tell you by the hour of people they’ve known who were “the greatest Christians this side of Heaven,” but who backslid and lost it all. But experience is not the criterion; the Bible is!

Critics of the biblical teaching of security invariably say, “If what you say is true, everyone would go out and live like the devil,” confident they would go to Heaven anyway. In the first place, real Christians don’t want to ‘live like the devil.’ In the second place, it is very unhealthy for a Christian to ‘live like the devil’ or anything close to it. It has to do with what the Bible calls chastening and Rokser has two chapters dealing with this (it is Part IV, “The Consequences of Carnality”).

In his final section the author looks at the ‘perplexing passages’ that some seem to think teach that one can lose his salvation. While we think this section will be very helpful to readers, we are frank to say the author understands the Hebrews passages (6:4-6; 10:26-30) differently than we do in our Hebrews commentary.

Our problem with this book is the same as others we have reviewed in this group: putting down Lordship Salvation (due to a misunderstanding of its teaching, in our judgment) and a false view of repentance (see our review of Freely By His Grace), all of whom dismiss it as merely “a change of mind.”

Regarding repentance, there is more than one word translated “repent” and/or “repentance” in the New Testament. The first one is in Matthew 3:2 regarding the cry of John the Baptist, “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” The word for repent here is metanoeite and the great Greek scholar A. T. Robertson, after discussing its mistranslations, says, “The tragedy of it is that we have no one English word that reproduces exactly the meaning and atmosphere of the Greek word.” Then he adds, “The Greek has a word meaning to be sorry (metamelomai) which is exactly our English word repent and it is used of Judas (Matt. 27:3).”

The Dallas Seminary commentary, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, calls it a change of heart as well as a change of mind. That is, of course, more than changing your mind about what you want for breakfast. Later, in Mark 1:14, 15, it says, “To ‘repent’ (metanoeō; cf. Mark 1:4) is to turn away from an existing object of trust (e.g., oneself). To call it merely a change of mind does not do it justice. You see, real repentance has “fruits” (Matthew 3:8, in same context as above).

In a message published in this magazine (May 1, 1987), Evangelist Harold Vaughan quoted Dr. Alan Redpath, “Faith that is not grounded in repentance and followed by obedience is not saving faith” (italic in original; boldface added). Vaughan went on to say, “In false repentance there is sorrow for sins, but it is not a ‘godly sorrow.’”

Probably no finer English dictionary of Greek words is available than W. E. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words. When he took up ‘Repent, Repentance’ he looked at verb, adjective and noun forms. In conclusion, he noted how repentance was used in the Old Testament and then summed up its New Testament use, starting the latter by saying, “In the N.T. the subject chiefly has reference to repentance from sin, and this change of mind involves both a turning from sin and a turning to God. The parable of the prodigal son is an outstanding illustration of this. Christ began His ministry with a call to repentance, Matt. 4:17, but the call is addressed, not as in the O.T. to the nation, but to the individual. In the Gospel of John, as distinct from the synoptic Gospels, referred to above, repentance is not mentioned, even in connection with John the Baptist’s preaching; in John’s Gospel and 1st Epistle the effects are stressed, e.g., in the new birth, and generally in the active turning from sin to God by the exercise of faith (John 3:3; 9:38; I John 1:9), as in the N.T. in general” (emphasis added).

The ‘Great Charlie,’ as C. H. Spurgeon was called, wrote this on the subject:

“No remission of sin can be given without repentance; the two things are so joined together by God, as they are in our text, that they cannot be separated. Many mistakes are made as to what true evangelical repentance really is. Just now, some professedly Christian teachers are misleading many by saying that ‘repentance is only a change of mind.’ It is true that the original word does convey the idea of a change of mind; but the whole teaching of Scripture concerning repentance which is not to be repented of is that it is a much more radical and complete change than is implied by our common phrase about changing one’s mind. The repentance that does not include sincere sorrow for sin is not the saving grace that is wrought by the Holy Spirit. God-given repentance makes men grieve in their inmost souls over the sin they have committed, and works in them a gracious hatred of evil in every shape and form. We cannot find a better definition of repentance than the one many of us learnt at our mother’s knee,

 ‘Repentance is to leave

 The sin we loved before,

 And show that we in earnest grieve

 By doing it no more.’

I am always afraid of a dry-eyed repentance; and mark you, if forgiveness could be granted to those who were not sorry for their sin, such forgiveness would tend to aid and abet sin, and would be no better than the Romish heresy that, when you have sinned, all you have to do is confess it to a priest, pay a certain sum of money according to the regular Roman tariff, and start again on your career of evil.

God forbid that we should ever fall into that snare of the Devil! If I could keep on living in sin, and loving it ever as much as I did, and yet have remission of it, the accusation of the blasphemer that Christ is the minister of sin would be a just one; but it is not so. On the contrary, we must loathe sin, and leave sin, and have an agonizing desire to be clean delivered from it; otherwise we can never expect the righteous God to say to us, ‘Your sins, which are many, are all forgiven.’”

Spurgeon called an alleged repentance that didn’t turn from sin ‘heresy.’ Alas, in our day – just as 100 years ago in his – some religious leaders are insisting that repentance is “only a change of mind.” How Spurgeon would be grieved. Even more, how the dear Lord is grieved with such teaching and preaching!

But we have already said more about repentance than a book review deserves, especially when the book is basically sound.

Summed up: a good book with helpful material, but don’t choke on the chaff!

God Sends an Angel

DELIVERANCE

By Michael Guido

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a blessed devotion that will have deep meaning for one about to face surgery or for one of your loved ones who is going through a tough trial of sorts.  Read this and meditate on it.  Hopefully you will share it with those for whom you care and those facing a serious surgery. 

Several weeks ago I was waiting in line for my “pre-op room” assignment. It was a time of anxiety and fear, apprehension and uncertainty. The surgeon had carefully laid out the risks as well as the rewards. All of the tests and examinations confirmed that my physical condition was strong and able to withstand the lengthy procedure.
When it was my turn to speak with the scheduler, I noticed that she had a well-worn Bible in her kiosk next to her computer keyboard. “It’s good to see you reading the Bible. Obviously you must love the Lord. What are you reading today?” I asked.
“Yes, Sir. I surely do love the Lord. He’s my best Friend. And this morning I am reading Psalm 91 and I’m meditating on verse two: ‘I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress.’”
Suddenly the God of all comfort appeared and spoke to me through one of His angels. What an unexpected message from God. As I stood before her, tears streamed down my face and splashed on my medical records while her words comforted my heart and put my soul at ease.
The words “refuge” and “fortress” are normally used in a military context. As used here they convey a special significance. God is in control and has established Himself in a defensive position against all enemies. Moreover, the Psalmist says that He is “My God!” assuring us that He is personal, present and prepared to protect us from any and all enemies. Because of His faithfulness in the past, we have no reason to ever doubt His presence and protection.

Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for the comfort of Your Word, the assurance of Your grace when we face life’s challenges. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 91:2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

Come SOW with us: Please forward this message to ten of your best friends, on behalf of Sower Ministries. And if these Seeds have ministered to you, email us and let us know, please. (Note: if you forward this email, remove the “unsubscribe” link at the bottom first or they may unsubscribe you from our mailing list.)

 

Editor Refutes Reader’s Error on Eternal Life

Editor’s Note: Gary read an article we published by Dr. Adrian Rogers on the matter of Eternal Security.  Perhaps he read other articles here on our site where we boldly declare without apology that salvation results in the Christian having everlasting life, eternal life.  Gary is of the erroneous opinion that our understanding of the Scriptures is wrong and our applications using eternal life and /or everlasting life are not only wrong, but doctrines of the devil.  The Editor has carefully read Gary’s email and the  statement from the Lutheran paper he included.  The following is the Editor’s answer to Gary. NOTE: Gary’s complete email to me is found at the end of this article.

Dear Gary,

pix of Ron E 3  First, I am pleased you found our website here at www.salvationlinks.com .  I am also pleased you wrote to share your concerns on the subject of Eternal Security which you characterized as “Once saved, always saved.” Apparently these terms trouble you and your understanding of the Scriptures.  The term, “Once saved, always saved,” does not appear in the Bible.  The truth of that statement is found in the Bible.  While I regret you have spent so much time trying to prove God is a liar and His Book is not to be trusted that you have overlooked one of the most precious truths in all of Scripture.

 Now you set out in your brief email to report many examples of people who fit your description of those who once were saved and eventually lost that salvation because of gross sin.  I don’t know how old you are, but you seem to have encountered a great number of “sex offenders,” “murderers,” those “living lives of sexual immorality,” etc.  And somehow you have taken this host of despicable characters to come along side of you to challenge the authority and truth of the Word of God.  Shame on you. 

 Apparently you had the good fortune to grow up in churches where winning people to Christ was an important theme of the ministry since you say, “I grew up evangelical. I witnessed many persons pray the Sinner’s Prayer or go forward during an Altar Call and make what seemed to be very genuine professions of faith. These people then went on to witness to others about salvation through faith in Christ, attend Church and prayer meetings, etc. for a number of years.”  Those are your words.  They reflect you were in a church that emphasized getting sinners saved.  That surely was a good practice.  You even report that some of those went on to witness to other sinners and attempt to get them saved.  Indicating some evidence they had been under sound teaching.

Then for some reason you are throwing these Christians under the bus and, if your doctrine be true, into the fires of hell, because they apparently drifted away from their earlier teaching and convictions and quit witnessing and you say, “They NOW (your emphasis) never darken a church door or read a Bible.” While I don’t know how you would know that depth of their personal life, but be that as it is…I let it stand as you wrote it.  You go on to illustrate your twisted teaching by giving an unfortunate example by telling the story of a young Christian woman who abandoned her church teaching and faith to convert to the Moslem faith. You report,  “One person has converted to be a Muslim to marry her Arab husband, completely abandoning the Christian faith.”  Then you continue to use examples of others who have fallen as though you are adding proof that a true believer can so sin as to lose his or her salvation.  You say, “I know of others who became murderers and child molesters and are unrepentant. I know others who are now living lives of sexual immorality and believe that there is nothing wrong with their behavior.”

First, I am happy you do not believe that the actions of those you describe is acceptable behavior in any Evangelical Church, whether Baptist or Lutheran.  It certainly is not.  Secondly, if you read and believe the Scriptures that kind of sin would not be tolerated in the early church without having those guilty of such being brought before the congregation. Thirdly, it would be a rare congregation where that many examples of gross sins would be represented in a single church or even several churches where you have served.  You have to admit that would be strange.

Probably the most outlandish example you put forth to further prove your faulty charges against Eternal Life and Everlasting life has to do with the young woman, the daughter of a Lutheran mother where you say, “I know one Lutheran mother who’s (your word) daughter became an evangelical and had a “born again” experience. A short time later the daughter started living with her boyfriend. Her mother warned her that what she was doing is sin, and that ongoing willful sin against God places her salvation in jeopardy. The daughter replied, “Don’t worry, Mom. I’m covered. I was born again, and if you are born again there is no way you can lose your salvation no matter what you do. Lutherans are wrong.”

Praise the Lord the dear Lutheran mother was wise in warning her daughter of her sinful ways.  Too often such warnings are not leveled and the child is left to go on in sin with no rebuke.  Nothing you have quoted has, in the least, addressed Scripture.  You give examples, apparently out of your own experience, but do not show at all where such examples shred Scripture.  This is foolishness on your part and faulty interpretation of one’s understanding of the Bible.

You would have me believe that your limited understanding of the early church fathers not having embraced eternal security in some way does away with the clear teaching of the Word of God.  It does not.  I think you would agree (I do not wish to put my words in your mouth) that the Bible is the inerrant, inspired Word of God.  If so that Word trumps any teaching of early church fathers…recent church fathers, or even trumps what you may claim to believe where it differs with that precious Word.  The Apostle Paul says in Romans 3:4, “God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.”  God’s Word is truth.

Now do you think one little girl…a young woman bent and determine to disobey her mother and run off with a wayward man and live in open sin…do you for one moment believe that young woman was ever taught that lifestyle in any Lutheran Church or Baptist Church?  I think not.  I would be ashamed to quote her as a proof text for your faulty belief.  Her lifestyle is wicked and her words are far from any church teaching I am aware of and surely you know it is far from what God’s Word teaches.

I will refer to what you quote as her statement, “I’m covered. I was born again, and if you are born again there is no way you can lose your salvation no matter what you do.” She does not act as one who was ever truly “born again.”  But she may have been.  There is no way I can know her soul’s condition.  But I will tell you that your pushing her story into your email note about the wrongful teaching on Eternal Life and Everlasting life is never taught in Scripture and, as far as I know, neither is it taught in any sound, Fundamental church.

I will say that words have meaning in Scripture.  For the true, blood-washed child of God, Everlasting life means you have life that will never end.  Eternal life means you have life that will never end. When one is born into the family of God…He is in.  He is a Child of God.  You can no more get out of the Family of God through your actions than you can get out of your earthly family.  Sin has consequences…Christians who sin will answer to God.  If a child of God cuts his or her arm off in a sinful act that arm is gone.  That Christian will go forward in this earthly journey with a limb missing.  That is common sense.

Let’s say you are right…the girl in your story was a genuine Christian and later gets into this foolish discourse with her mother and defends her wicked actions by claiming she has been “born again.”  Let me ask you a question…How many of her sins did Jesus die for on the cross?  If you are honest you will have to say all of them. And He did.  Would you imply that Jesus had no idea this young woman would later be physically  born (because when Jesus died on the cross this young woman was yet totally future), get saved and then do the foolish and wicked things you report?  Again, an honest view would say that Jesus did, indeed, know all.  He knows the end from the beginning.  Still He accepted her and forgave her of her sins.  She became a child of God.  I hesitate to use David as an example here because his story predates the Crucifixion, but his story addresses issues you bring up.  David committed adultery and murder.  But what did he lose in committing those horrible sins?  Not his salvation…He lost the Joy of his salvation.  God did not throw him out.  And he would not through you out either.

No sane person would take from that there is no penalty for doing wrong.  No there is plenty of guilt and joyless days ahead for the Christian who sins.  But did Jesus die for those sins.  Yes…Oh, yes He did.

I think there is no limit to your willingness to cast aspersions onto the Bible and the blessed teachings that Jesus Christ so earnestly and lovingly inspired via the Holy Spirit.  You join the foolish and wicked who haphazardly misquote Scriptures and make up others when you say, “Neither infant baptism nor an adult “born again” experience is a “Get-into-heaven-free” card! Salvation only occurs by the grace of God, received through faith. No faith, no salvation.” And imply rather overtly that this has a bearing on salvation through faith.  It does not and you know it does not.  “Get-into-heaven-free card!” God never…I repeat never…conditioned salvation for the Church age sinners on baptism.  I am not too familiar with the Lutheran teaching on the subject but I seem to recall they might teach a baptismal regeneration doctrine.  If so, that is not a true Bible doctrine.  Baptism does not save, does not help save and has no efficacy in helping the sinner stay saved.  Water baptism is a picture of what the Holy Spirit does at the time of your salvation when He baptizes you into the Body of Christ.  A picture is not salvation.

I have often heard ill-informed people refer to salvation as the act that gives the Christian the right to do any act he or she might choose to do and that person is covered under the Everlasting Life benefit of Scripture.  That has never been a doctrine of any church where I have been a member.  The Apostle Paul says, “38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” –Romans 8:38-39

Now, Friend, is there some sinful act that you can dream up that might “separate that Christian from the Love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord?”  I think not.

One thing you should learn and think on over the rest of your life, “Your salvation is not yours to lose.”  Before God declared you saved, he transferred something to you…His righteousness.  Look at 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”

When you became a Christian you were made as righteous as Jesus Christ is righteous in the eyes of God the Father.  Again the Apostle Paul speaks, “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:” –Colossians 3:3-5

You have the mistaken idea that Eternal Life and Everlasting life originated with John Calvin.  How ridiculous is your thinking and how errant is your study.  You say, “The doctrine of Eternal Security is an invention of the Calvinists, codified at the Synod of Dort. It is false teaching. It did not exist in the Early Church. It is a license to sin! The Doctrine of Eternal Security is not scriptural!” Whoa there, friend.  You might be guilty of taking away from the Word of God.  There is a curse involved with that.  You should rethink that and repent of your gross error.

It is unfortunate that John Calvin in his paper where he puts forth the TULIP acrostic with each letter representing one of the five points of his position. He has as his last point the “Perseverserance of the saints.”  I say this is unfortunate because it is not the saints that persevere…it is the blessed Holy Spirit.  Surely you are familiar with Philippians 1:6, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:”

Then you close your email by suggesting we read the Lutheran statement on this issue.  I did read it and do not intend to dissect it here for there is surely no need for it.  I noticed you drew one or two of your main points from that Lutheran statement. Your premise is wrong from start to finish.  No amount of appealing to the Lutherans will redeem your position and cannot whitewash your errors.  Sorry.

Gary, I pray you will go back to the Bible and on your knees prayerfully read it and study it and confess your sin of unbelief to Almighty God. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” -First John 1:9

Sincerely,

Ron English, Editor of SalvationLinks.com

I posted this article on my Facebook and a reader there suggested in a way that I should have posted Gary’s email in its entirety so the readers could read and compare.  That is something I should have done at the start.  So here is Gary’s email: I do not provide his email address for obvious reasons.  He didn’t provide his last name, or his address.  -Editor

Don’t you think that it is a problem that there is no evidence in the Early Christian Church of the belief that “once saved, always saved”? In fact, quite the opposite. There are plenty of early Christian pastors and theologians in the first three to four centuries AD who warn Christians not to be complacent in their faith and live a life of willful sin…lest they perish to eternal damnation.

I grew up evangelical. I witnessed many persons pray the Sinner’s Prayer or go forward during an Altar Call and make what seemed to be very genuine professions of faith. These people then went on to witness to others about salvation through faith in Christ, attend Church and prayer meetings, etc. for a number of years.

They NOW never darken a church door or read a Bible. One person has converted to be a Muslim to marry her Arab husband, completely abandoning the Christian faith. I know of others who became murderers and child molesters and are unrepentant. I know others who are now living lives of sexual immorality and believe that there is nothing wrong with their behavior.

Do you really believe that if one of these former believers dies…he or she will go to heaven???

I know one Lutheran mother who’s daughter became an evangelical and had a “born again” experience. A short time later the daughter started living with her boyfriend. Her mother warned her that what she was doing is sin, and that ongoing willful sin against God places her salvation in jeopardy. The daughter replied, “Don’t worry, Mom. I’m covered. I was born again, and if you are born again there is no way you can lose your salvation no matter what you do. Lutherans are wrong.”

Neither infant baptism nor an adult “born again” experience is a “Get-into-heaven-free” card! Salvation only occurs by the grace of God, received through faith. No faith, no salvation.

The Christian whose faith and trust is in the Lord need never worry about his eternal security/his salvation. Our salvation is not dependent on how many good works we do. But, the believer who takes his salvation for granted, turns his back on God and lives a life of sin is endangering his soul and very well may wake up one day in hell!

The doctrine of Eternal Security is an invention of the Calvinists, codified at the Synod of Dort. It is false teaching. It did not exist in the Early Church. It is a license to sin! The Doctrine of Eternal Security is not scriptural!

I encourage evangelicals to read this Lutheran statement on this issue:

http://www.hopelcms.org/default.aspx?pg=87ac4963-1ad2-499c-8a26-0304068bf63c

Gary
Luther, Baptists, and Evangelicals