Are We All Watchmen?

Q. I read your website often. It’s a blessing to me. I was reading Ezekiel the other day and paused at chapter 33 verse 8. Did warning sinners only apply to that time, or does it still apply to the present day? And what exactly does God mean when He says if you never warned a sinner to change their way and they die unsaved, their blood is on your hands?

A. In Ezekiel 33:7 it’s clear that God was addressing Ezekiel personally. He was making sure Ezekiel understood the consequences of failing to warn his countrymen about their sins. Ezekiel 33:7-20 give clear evidence that there was no eternal security in Old Testament times. Ezekiel was told to call the Israelites to repentance by reminding them that all of a man’s the righteous acts could be wiped out if he fell into sin, and all of a man’s sins would be forgotten as soon as he turned to righteous living. God was making Ezekiel personally responsible for warning the nation about this.

Contrast that with Paul’s teaching that we were included in Christ when we heard the gospel and believed it. At that time the Holy Spirit was sealed within us as a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance (Ephes. 1:13-14) which is eternal life. And in 2 Cor. 1:21-22 he went so far as to say that it’s God who makes us stand firm in Christ. He has set His seal of ownership on us and put His spirit in our hearts. This identifies us as belonging to Him in the same way that cattle belong to the rancher who brands them. And Jesus said it’s His Father’s will that He should lose none of us (John 6:39).

This shows us how different our relationship with the Lord is from Israel’s. There’s was a conditional relationship based on a combination of faith and obedience to the Law. Ours is an unconditional relationship based on faith alone. We are strongly encouraged to live in a manner pleasing to God, but our salvation does not depend on it.

Therefore, I don’t believe this passage can be used to justify the opinion that we’re all watchmen who will be held accountable for warning people about their sins. God has set His seal of ownership on each one of us, Jesus has promised never to lose us, and the Holy Spirit is sealed in our hearts as a guarantee of our inheritance. I’d say we’re all pretty well covered.

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