The Cross Walk -- Chapter 2

TWO – “His Forever”

 

     Based upon the illustration found in Figure One, the subject of our attention is directed to the top circle, which represents the born-again believer’s position in Christ Jesus.  This position of standing with God, is an eternal and certain matter.  As a result of being regenerated, that is saved and forgiven, we are God’s children and belong to Him forevermore.

 

     When God through His Son the Lord Jesus, forgives and redeems a person, it is an eternal promise grounded in the perfect and complete sacrifice freely given at Calvary by the Savior.  Second Corinthians 5:21 states, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”  Because of our sin the sinless and innocent Lord Jesus died upon the cross, bearing the punishment we deserved.  Three days later He rose from the dead and lives forever more to seal and guarantee our salvation.

 

     This supreme act of love and grace gives God the authority to offer eternal life to all, who come by faith.  The great transaction was made and He says, “You are Mine forever—it is a done deal.”  Not only does God know how to save us, but He also knows how to keep us.

 

     In John 10, Jesus made an interesting statement—“’I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.  My Father who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand’” (verses 28 and 29).

 

     The same Greek word (harpazó) translated “snatch” is used by several New Testament teachers.  For instance in Acts 23:10, Luke used it to describe Paul’s desperate civil situation.  The soldiers were afraid that if Paul was not rescued the angry mob would take him by force (harpazó) and kill him.  Jesus used the same word in a parable found in Matthew’s gospel account.  There Jesus taught the only way for thieves to successfully carry off (harpazó) the possessions of a strong man they would first need to subdue him and then tie him up.  Again in Matthew Jesus employed this word when He spoke the parable of the seed and the sower.  Here He said that the good seed was often “snatch(ed) away” (harpazó) by the enemy of our soul (13:19).  Finally, Paul applied the word in his writing to the Thessalonians about a yet great future event, the rapture.  Born-again believers will be “caught up” (harpazó) to forever be with the Lord (2 Thessalonians 4:17).

 

     This word means to seize, to take by force, to catch away, or to snatch.  Back in John 10 Jesus assured His own that no one has the capability of seizing or forcibly taking God’s children from Him.  Why?  It is because we belong to God.  We are safely kept in His hand, and His hand is kept secure in His Father’s.  No one is greater or more powerful than God.

     When Jesus shared the truth of John 10:28 and 29, He must have had in mind the Old Testament passage found in Isaiah 49:

But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me, and the Lord has forgotten me.”  “Can a woman forget her nursing child, and have no compassion on the son of her womb?  Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.  Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; Your walls are continually before Me” (verses 14 – 16).

 

     This is a blessed truth we have and it is able to reassure and comfort the heart.  God says that His own are engraved, or tattooed on the palms of His hands.  Every time He looks at His hands He sees us, because we belong to Him.  He can never forget us nor forsake us!

     This information makes Jesus’ statement strong and forceful.  It assures believers of God’s strength and ability—there is no force on earth or beneath earth which can separate His own from His love or care (Romans 8:38, 39).  It convinces born-again Christians that God cannot be out-maneuvered, ambushed, or surprised by the enemy.  Every child of God is absolutely safe and secure, both for this lifetime and eternity.

 

     If this statement alone is not enough insurance to seal this sacred and precious truth, the repeated use of the New Testament phrase “in Christ” adds further reinforcement.  Paul, although not exclusively, used this two-word term over and over again throughout his inspired writings.  For example let us look at the book of Ephesians.  These Scriptures state that believers are now saints in Christ Jesus (1:1); born-again believers are seated in heavenly places in Christ (2:6); believers are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus (2:10); those who alone trust Jesus for salvation are made fellow partakers of God’s promises in Christ Jesus (36); and children of God are forgiven in Christ Jesus (4:32) [italics added].  Any who place their faith in Jesus Christ receive salvation and are forever found in Christ.  This is the perspective from which God views every born-again believer.

 

     In the four prison epistles (Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon) Paul frequently used a writing method which I like to call before and after.  His writings teach believers what they were before their life was changed by the Savior and compare it with what life is like after conversion.  In Ephesians 2:12 and 13 we find an example of the before and after technique.  Before salvation believers were in the world without God and far from Him; but, now we are in Christ having been brought near by the blood of Christ.  Scriptures teach that the blameless blood of the Lord Jesus, which was shed at Calvary, has the power to cleanse us from all sin thus making it possible for us to approach Him and intimately know Him as our Savior.  There is magnificent joy in this blood bought relationship.
 
 
                
 


born-again children, He can scarcely tell the difference.  The bible uses the same word to describe believers and the Savior:  “beloved.”  Paul stated in Ephesians 1:6 that all believers are “in the beloved;” Matthew recorded a statement made by the Father at Christ’s baptism—“This is my beloved Son . . .” (3:17).

 

     As a high school student I struggled with this great truth, often times asking and wondering if there might be some personal behavior which so sorely displeased the Lord that would motivate Him to revoke my sonship.  A wise and loving camp leader took me aside and suggested that when these doubts and worries raised their ugly head, I should go straight to the Word of God.  He instructed me to read and reread the Savior’s words in John 10 substituting my own name in place of each pronoun.  “Read it and trust Him who said it,” was my leader’s counsel.  Oh the joy that comes to the one who trusts and obeys God’s Word and its promises.  We must realize obedience does not earn the Father’s love, but obedience to the Word if God gains a wonderful joy and intimacy with the Father.  His love for us is constant and sure, and is a marvelous manifestation of His grace and mercy.

     Sadly enough there are some who use passages like Hebrews 6:4 – 6 to substantiate their erroneous dogma teaching that a born-again believer may lose or forfeit his salvation.  There is no denying this particular passage has been the center of many debates.  However, the thrust of this section of Scripture is a warning to believers urging them on to greater growth and maturity.  It is important to examine the actual words of Scripture:

For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good Word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God, and put Him to open shame (Hebrews 6:4 – 6).

 

     There are several interpretations of these three verses.  The first one to consider is that someone may lose his salvation.  This interpretation is fraught with many difficulties.  To hold such a view is to fly in the face of dozens of other biblical passages (see Appendix) which dogmatically teach that born-again believers are forever secure in Christ.  Another troublesome notion this interpretation raises is that it would make these verses seem to say that it would be impossible for those who lost their salvation to again be saved.

     Other interpreters take a more moderate view when they teach that the writer spotlighted pretenders and not genuine believers, people who only claim Christianity but have never actually been born again.  To take such a view is to ignore something basic to the entire book of Hebrews.  This New Testament book is written and addressed to genuinely born-again men and women.  In just a few short sentences later the writer referred to his readers as “beloved” (verse 9), and his continual use of self-inclusive personal plural pronouns such as “we” and “us.”  However, in all fairness to this view its supporters claim that the phrase “falling away” is in reference to the knowledge of the truth and not to salvation.

 

     Then there is a third view, which seems to hold the most credibility.  The author of Hebrews issued a warning to born-again believers, which strongly motivates them on to greater growth and maturity in spiritual matters.  The context makes this clear beginning at Hebrews 6:1.  Noted teacher and writer, Charles Ryrie, suggests the following scenario to illustrate this interpretation.  “It is similar to saying something like this to a class of students.  ‘It is impossible for a student, once enrolled in this course, if he turns the clock back (which cannot be done), to start the course over.  Therefore, let all students go on to deeper knowledge.’” (Ryrie Study Bible, page 1843, NASB edition, Moody, Chicago)

 

     Words such as “enlightened,” “tasted,” and “partakers” which are used in this passage appear to be in reference to one’s conversion.  These three terms are cited here in Hebrews 6 along with other passages in this New Testament book: first, “enlightened.”  The English word “photo” is derived from this Greek word “phótizó” which means to shine or give light.  The writer used it in Hebrews 10:32 as well, with reference to behavior after being enlightened or converted.

 

     The second word to consider in Hebrews 6 is “tasted.”The Scripture author uses it identically three different times in this New Testament book.  The first occasion is in

2:9 where he communicated that the Lord Jesus tasted death for mankind.  Twice in chapter 6, the phrase is used.  In each instance referring to the experience of genuine born-again believers who had tasted of or ingested, the Word of God and His powers.

 

     Finally, the word “partakers” is used four times in this inspired record.  The word means to share in.  It is seen first in Hebrews 3:1 with reference to believers who have shared in the heavenly calling.  Note also that our writer again used the personal pronoun, “our” in order to include himself.  There can be no argument that a writer of sacred Scripture is genuinely born again.  Then in 3:14 he wrote that “we” have become partakers of Christ because of salvation.  The chapter six occurrence says that born-again believers have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit. Paul plainly stated in his letters that only those who have been born again posses the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9),  Then,

finally in 12:8 the blessed truth which will be discussed in chapter eight; the loving, Fatherly reminder God must often bring to the life of His child—discipline.  The writer taught that if we are God’s we will share in, or partake, in discipline.  Those who trust Christ Jesus for salvation are the Father’s children and the Lord Jesus is the elder Brother (Hebrews 2:11, 12, 17).  That means we are part of God’s eternal family.

 

     Based upon a few words, it is rather foolhardy to take \a position, which states a born-again believer, can be lost, particularly when the same writer used the exact words in other settings to argue for security.  It becomes increasingly evident Scripture teaches born-again believers are God’s children forever; completely dependent upon Him for life now and in eternity.  Peter wrote:

And God has reserved for his children the priceless gift of eternal life, it is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay.  And God, in his mighty power, will make sure that you get there safely to receive it, because you are trusting him.  It will be yours in that coming last day for all to see (1 Peter 1:4, 5 TLB).

 

 No one can rob us of this gracious gift—we are His.  A treasured old hymn tells us, “I am His and He is mine.”  God has blessed us with a precious relationship, which is warm, unchangeable, and joy-filled.  What belongs to Him belongs to His children, yet another example of grace.  There are two sides to this coin:  what is His is ours;

and what is ours is His.

 

     God is our Father and Christ, is our elder Brother. For both He who sacrifices and

those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to  call them brethren saying,

 

‘ I will proclaim Thy name to My brethren, in the midst of the congregation I will sing Thy praise.’  Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people (Hebrews 2:11, 12, 17).

 

     Here we have further motivation for obedience; we are His eternal family and heirs—fellow heirs with Christ, our elder Brother (Romans 8:19; Ephesians 3:6; Hebrews 11:9). 

So yes, all that is God’s is ours.  In Him we find identity, completeness, stability, acceptance, joy, and life itself.  All that is God’s is ours; and all that we have is God’s.  Anything we call ours belongs to God and is graciously given to us from His hand:  ability or talent, any measure of success or effectiveness, possessions—it is all His.

 

     This is true, He requires His children to be proper stewards of these gifts.  We are to hold them with open hands solely dependent upon Him, the Giver.  Because we are in love with the Giver rather than the gift, we are to use any gift empowered b Him, realizing that without Him we can achieve nothing (John 15:5), but because we are in Christ we find strength and ability enabling us to do all things (Philippians 4:13).

 

      Perhaps the hymn writer, Frances R. Havergal, said it best—“Take my life and let it be consecrated Lord to Thee; Take my moments and my days, let them flow in ceaseless

praise.  Take my hands . . . take my feet . . . . take my voice . . . take my lips . . .  take my intellect . . . take my heart . . .  and take myself.”  This speaks of total dedication.

 

      Paul, in Romans 6, also called for total dedication to Christ.  “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God” (verses 12 and 13)—an interesting and insightful statement.

 

     The Scriptures tell believers not to allow the enemy to use any “members of your body” as instruments to advance his cause.  The word “instruments” is elsewhere translated “weapons.”  In John’s gospel, he applied the word when describing the military weapons Roman soldiers used when they came to arrest Jesus at Judas’ bidding (John 18:3).  Paul also used the word when he wrote to the Corinthian church in his second letter speaking of weapons of righteousness which are “divinely powerful” for the

destruction of [evil] fortresses” (2 Corinthians 6:7; 10:4).

 

      Therefore, the Romans 6 instruction warns believers not to allow any part of ourselves to be used as weapons in the hands of Satan—do not allow sin to reign or be king.  When believers permit Satan’s control he will bully his way in and coerce God’s people to heed or obey lustful or sinful passions.  No joy is found in that sort of

disobedience because it only leads to disappointment, confusion, and estrangement with the One to whom we eternally belong.

 

       So what happens to a born-again one who sins?  This question and other important ones will be discussed in the next two chapters.    
 
 

Copyright © 2010 by J. Michael Fox

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