Read this. It’s not mine, but it echoes my experience and testimony of the grace of God. Like Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12,
For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.
We are not only exhorted…encouraged…charged (solemnly warned) to walk in a manner worthy of God, if we are saved it will be the evidence (fruit, consequence) of that saving work of Christ that He has done in us.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
I believe that the first time I had any understanding of the fact that I was a sinner was when I was 9 years old at Deerfoot Lodge (a Christian camp for boys). I remember praying a prayer. I think at this point I was scared of hell and didn’t want to go there! This was for sure not a life changing experience! I was convinced that I was a Christian because I went to church and my parents were Christians.
I grew up in what I now refer to as a liberal Methodist church. I went to confirmation classes and was confirmed in the church (I think that is when I became a member). I still had no idea what it meant to be saved. I don’t recall the doctrine of salvation ever being taught. I remember us having a woman pastor, a pastor who loved listening to the Grateful Dead, a pastor that was all about love. Seriously, I don’t remember any doctrine or theology ever being taught.
As a teenager I went to youth group. This was not a choice. Mom and Dad made me! I wonder what would happen if parents would still make their kids do things like that (that is a blog post all by itself)! I did learn at youth group quite a bit more about what it meant to be saved. I learned at least what it is that Christians look like. I also started a relationship with my youth leader that would change my life. My youth leader took me to Word of Life Bible Institute to show me around and I started right after high school. It was there that I learned that once you are saved you are always saved. I was told that because I prayed a prayer when I was 9 years old that I was a Christian. I was told that no matter what I did after that did not matter. I was eternally secure, no matter what.
Well as you can imagine, that really excited me! I was convinced that I got saved at Deerfoot when I was 9. I prayed the prayer. I was saved. After word of life I got married. Had a kid (the best kid ever). Got divorced. Got bitter. Lived how I wanted. I was not worried. I was saved. I said the prayer. Once saved always saved!
A couple of years after that I really started to read my bible. I started to study theology. I sought to be discipled. This is where my youth leader comes back into the story as he is the guy that ended being my discipleship partner! I started reading some of the Puritan writers, I have read Edwards, Bunyan, Brainard, Spurgeon, Fox, current day writers like Macarthur, Piper, Alcorn, Miller, Vincent. I started to really dig into what I believe and why I believe it. It has been an amazing journey.
Now we come to the final part of our walk. I finally understand what salvation is (at least in part). I am not a Christian because I prayed a prayer. I am not a Christan because my parents are. I am not once saved always saved as I understood it at Word of Life. It is obedience. A willingness to do what God’s eternal word says. It is the Perseverance of the Saints. The “P” in T.U.L.I.P. The acronym to help remember the 5 points of Calvinism. I have found on a website called “A Puritans Mind” a great definition of the Perseverance of the Saint that I would now like to share with you. It is written by Dr. C. Matthew McMahon.
Perseverance of the Saints does not mean “once saved always saved”. This corruption of the doctrine has been popular in recent years, but has never been a true representation of the doctrine. “Once saved always saved” is more keenly given the name “Perseverance of the sinner” instead of “the saint”. For it teaches that man can be saved by Christ and then sin habitually, do whatever he wants, and then still “persevere to the end”. Perseverance of the saints does not teach this. Perseverance of the saints teaches that once God has renewed the heart of a sinner through the application of the redemption wrought by Christ upon the cross, he will continue to be saved and show forth the fruits of that salvation. The sinner perseveres because of Christ, but he continually shows himself as one who has been changed by Christ. God has saved the individual and will sanctify him until the end when he is ultimately glorified, and in heaven. It does not mean man has a license to sin. Those who think they have a license to sin are not changed and saved by grace. They are still in sin. Those who are saved by grace and changed, desire to show forth the fruits of that salvation. God motions the heart to good work, and continues that good work to the end.
John 6:37-39, “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.”
Phil. 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:”
1 Thess. 5:23-24, “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.”
2 Tim. 4:18, “And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
1 Peter 1:23, “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.”
Romans 8:29, “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.”
Ephesians 2:10, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”
If you are struggling with why you believe what you believe please pick up your bible. Start reading it! Pray for guidance. Find someone who is mature in the Lord to help you on your journey! Make what you believe your own. Know it. It will make all the difference in the world, and will have eternal significance!
Thanks Rob, for putting it down so clearly.