Q. First I want to thank you for the excellent job that you do. You are truly blessed.
My question is this. The Pastor at my Church is excellent and seems to be right on with most of your views. However there are a couple of things that I thought I had finally become convinced of through your website and studying that I am now confused about again after a couple of comments that were made in Sunday school yesterday.
First is the OSAS issue. It was explained that you can lose your salvation if you just give up on your faith or turning your back on God.
The other comment that was made was “just like we don’t believe in predestination …” Do you believe that we are chosen? I understand that God foreknew and “they” agree but argue that that doesn’t mean the same as being predestined. I have read all the passages I can find about this subject and it seems pretty simply stated to me that because He foreknew that makes us predestined.
What am I missing? Am I questioning too much about subjects that really aren’t that important?
A. Some people cling to a middle position on OSAS, agreeing that God will never “unsave” us but that we can give back our salvation by abandoning our faith. They often point to Colossians 1:22-23, “But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation– if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel.” The problem is that the key word in the passage, “if”, actually means “inasmuch” or “since” in the Greek and therefore is not the conditional promise it seems to be in the English.
Even the faith to be saved is a gift from God (Ephes. 2:8) and doesn’t come from us. I have never read a single passage that implies that God will take back a gift he’s given us. Once we show a willingness to ask for salvation, He provides the faith to believe we have it.
Another verse they use is John 15:4 “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” But this message is to believers reminding us that in order to bear fruit in our lives, we must rely on His strength, not our own.
Ephesians 1:13-14 tells us that at the first moment of belief we were saved and the Holy Spirit was sealed within us as a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance. There are no conditions in that promise. Romans 8:38-39 says that nothing can separate us from the love of God. John 6:39 says that Jesus will lose none of those the Father has given Him.
These crystal clear passages should always be given greater weight in helping us understand those that are less clear. The Bible cannot contradict itself. And the model of the Shepherd and the Sheep, so prevalent in the New Testament, gives added support. Sheep wander away all the time. That’s what sheep do. It’s the shepherd’s job to bring them back. He’s responsible for them. Our Shepherd has promised to lose none of His flock. (John 10: 11-14 & 27-28)
As for your comment on predestination, it sounds like the person was using the term in the Calvinist sense. (Calvinists believe that we don’t choose God He chooses us.) To me it sounds like he was saying that your church doesn’t accept the Calvinist view, not denying that predestination is a step in the process outlined in Romans 8:29-30.