The Eternal Security Of All Blood Bought Believers
By J. M. Carroll
Fellow Christians: With an earnest desire to comfort and strengthen you, I preach this sermon.
In the early days of my Christian life, I passed through a mighty battle of doubt and fear and trouble on the subject herein discussed. In my ignorance of what the Bible really taught I firmly believed that it was possible, yea, even more than possible for a Christian on account of his sins to be finally lost and damned. During this short period of my life I was but little help to others or the cause. My whole attention was given to self. I was trying hard “to hold on” and to “hold out”, and the longer I tried the more doubtful to me became the unequal struggle. I soon thoroughly learned that sin and the Devil are stronger than even a Christian. During those days the joys of salvation were not mine. I will not attempt to give you the history of those doubtful and uncertain days. I was driven to the Word of God. I give you in this sermon some of the results of that search for light and help. I am profoundly convinced that it is the Christian’s blessed privilege to be comforted and strengthened by his religion.
THE FOLLOWING SCRIPTURES ARE MY TEXT:
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me, and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish; neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father which gave them me, is greater than all: and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand” (John 10:27-29). “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace” (Romans 6:14). “Whereas He is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25). “Thou shalt call His name Jesus; for He shall save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21).
Even though I have taken a long text, I do not expect to confine my sermon to those passages. It is my purpose to use many more.
1. The first point of my text to which I call your special attention is embraced in the words “Eternal Life.” You will note that the text says: “I give unto them eternal life.” With reference to these words I ask you to carefully note four things, all brought out in the Scriptures:
(1) That before the foundation of the world, “God proposed to give to His people eternal life.” Note the following Scriptures: “Who hath saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began” (II Timothy 1:9). “And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the Word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48). Before commenting on these passages note further: (2) God promised to His children precisely the same thing that He purposed: That is “Eternal Life.” Note these proofs: “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:14-16). “Paul a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness In hope of eternal life, which God that cannot lie promised before the world began” (Titus 1:1-2). “And this is the promise that He hath promised us, even eternal life” (I John 2:25). Thus you will see, that even before the world was made, God purposed to give to His people who should in after years believe in Him, “Eternal Life.” And then He promised them the very thing that He had purposed. Now note again: (3) God gave and now gives just exactly what He purposed and promised: That is “Eternal Life.” Note carefully the following Scriptures: “He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made Him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of His Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son” (I John 5:10-11). “I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life” (John 10:27-28). “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Now on these words “Eternal Life,” note one more point: (4) Believers receive and have precisely what God purposed and promised and gives: That is “Eternal Life.” Once more note the Scriptures: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life” (John 5:24). Not may have it in the future, but hath it now. Not that he is put in a position to secure it some time later, but even now “hath everlasting life.” I give you now the language of an old preacher, just before his death, writing back to those who had been converted under his ministry. Final words, evidently intended for their encouragement and for their comfort: “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life” (I John 5:13). I press the point that believers now have “eternal life.” Not that they may have it, but they now have it. Now see the full force of this first main argument. God purposed, God promised, God gave and still gives, believers receive and have a definite thing. And that thing is “Eternal Life.” “Everlasting Life.” These words do not mean a short duration. They do not mean a life for a day, for a month, for a year, nor even for a hundred years; but a life for all of time and for all eternity. If believers have anything, they have “eternal life.” For that and that only, is what God purposed and promised, and gives to those who believe on His Son. How simple and how plain is the Word of God!
NOTE THE SECOND PART OF THE TEXT:
2. God Makes the Thing Doubly Sure.
Not willing that any should remain in doubt and uncertainty concerning this matter He goes even further than simply to declare that what He purposed and promised and that believers receive and have is “eternal life.” He Adds Something More. Again Hear His Word: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish” (John 10:27-28). “Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation” (John 5:24). No matter what may befall us in the future; no matter what temptation may beset us; no matter what the works of the Devil; no matter if he throw us down or wallow us in the mire, we do not again “come into condemnation.”
“THEY SHALL NEVER PERISH.” Note the Third Point in My Text: BELIEVERS ARE NOT UNDER LAW.
Let us again turn to “The law and to the testimony.” “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for ye are not under the law, but under grace” (Rom. 6:14). “For until the law sin was in the world; but sin is not imputed when there is no law” (Rom. 5:13). “Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered, blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin”‘ (Rom. 4:7-8). God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Him self, not imputing their trespasses unto them,” etc. (II Cor. 5:19). No wonder Paul’s exultant cry of faith and hope: “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea, rather that is risen again, who is even now at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us” (Rom. 8:33-34). Can anything be made stronger or plainer? Do these Scriptures need comment? The Christian is not under law, but under grace. Sin is not imputed where there is no law. Jesus Christ has become our substitute. “He bare our sins in His own body on the tree” (I Peter 2:24). “The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” “With His stripes we are healed.” (Isa. 53.) How encouraging, how strengthening, how comforting, how glorious are these Scriptures! But should they make us careless, or reckless, or foolish? Nay, verily, hear Paul on this point: “What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? God forbid” (Rom. 6:15). Let us now examine this subject of the believer’s security from another line of thought.
4. The Scriptures teach that God is the author and finisher of the believer’s salvation. Mark several plain passages on this point: “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it unto the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6). “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” (Heb. 12:2). “He became the author of eternal salvation” (Heb. 5:9). “That in everything ye are enriched by Him, in all utterances and in all knowledge; even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you; so that ye come behind in no gift, waiting for the coming of our Lord. Jesus Christ: Who shall also confirm you unto the end; that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Cor. 1:5-8). I give on this point one more Scripture passage: “For by grace are ye saved through faith: and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8). Salvation is wholly of God. He is the “author” and “finisher”. He began and will finish. Even the faith is His gift. It is absolutely unthinkable, inconceivable that God who knows man today, what he will be tomorrow, what he will be in all the future would give him faith to believe, would begin in him a good work and then leave it unfinished. Begin and leave off as if He did not know His own mind. Begin and leave off as if He were not the unchangeable God. Begin and leave off as if He were playing the child. Playing with the question of salvation; playing with the eternal souls of men; playing with Heaven and Hell; playing with eternity. No, no, no! Brethren and sisters, we cannot even imagine such a thing. Behind God’s beginning in the salvation of a sinner, are His eternal purpose and promise. He will finish! But See Now Another Point In My Test. CHRISTIANS DO NOT KEEP THEM SELVES, GOD KEEPS THEM Hear What the Book Says: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me, and I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My father which gave them me is greater than all, and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand” (John 10:27-29). Christians are declared to be in the hands of Christ the Son, and also in the hands of God the Father. And that no man is able to pluck them out of their hands. But says the poor trembling, untaught Christian, “May not God Himself cast them out?” Hear Christ’s words on this subject: “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me: And he that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37). Christ plainly declares that He will not cast them cut! I want you now to note some other passages bearing on this point, that God keeps the believer: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in Heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God, through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein we greatly rejoice, though now for a season if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations” (I Peter 1:3-6). I do not see how it could have been possible, for even an Omniscient Spirit to have used language plainer and stronger than this. 0h, child of God, note carefully just what this Scripture does say: God “hath begotten us again,” and begotten us unto a “lively hope.” A living hope.” Not a dead, comfortless hope; but a living, breathing, soul inspiring hope. “Begotten us again.” “To an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away.” And then to make the matter more secure, this inheritance is not put into the Christian’s hand, where he may spend it “in riotous living,” where he may sell it for a “mess of pottage,” where he may throw it away for “Thirty pieces of silver,” where he may cast it away for some transient worldly pleasure, or where he may lose it on account of some desperate sin. Note what it says: “An inheritance . . . reserved in Heaven for you.” Blessed fact God keeps it for us. This glorious inheritance is reserved in Heaven for the Christian during the years of his minority. (Gal. 4:1-6, will explain this time of minority.) It is not in his possession. By no possible means can he lose it! Or give it away, or throw it away. “Reserved in Heaven for you” where evil men and devils cannot go. But some, yet doubting, will say: “Yes, the inheritance is all right, but what about the Christian, the inheritor, the heir?” 0 troubled brother, hear all the passage. Hear and be convinced and comforted. “Begotten again to a lively hope . . . reserved in Heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God.” The remaining part of the passage comes in so appropriately: “Wherein we greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations.” “Wherein ye greatly rejoice.” Yea, why not? The season of temptations and heaviness will not be long. Look up, Oh Christian. See the work of thy God and thy Savior. Be not fearful, but believing. But I give you still other Scriptures on this point that God keeps the believer. Hear them: “For I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day” (II Tim. 1:12). Yea, beloved, God is able and will keep, “Will keep against that day.” That day of all days surely He can keep on easier days! Hear Paul yet again: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, for thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor heights, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:35-39). This glorious declaration from the great Apostle to the Gentiles needs no comment. Take it brethren and sisters. I lay it on your hearts. Believe it and let it cheer and sustain you. The sons of God came up to worship. Satan came with them, and the Lord said unto him, “Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in all the earth. ” Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, Doth Job fear God for naught? Hast not thou made a hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side?” (Job 1:6-10). Yes, beloved, God keeps His children. Some years ago I was in a certain town in this state. We held several services, God was with us. One morning as we approached the meeting house, my attention was called to a man standing near the door. “Do you see that man? He is immoral, a gambler, a horse-racer, an infidel. He has not been inside a church for fifteen years.” We held our service, God was in it. This man, as he stated that night in his experience, was converted during the service. That night to the amazement of the congregation he came forward to unite with the church. All over the house whispers, and even some audible remarks were made. “What does that mean?” “Is he going to join the church?” “He can’t hold out.” “He won’t hold out a week.” He heard what was said. A few years after that, I preached again in the same town. After the service a man came up to me and said, “Do you know me?” I recognized him immediately. He said, “Do you remember what they said about me the night I joined the church? They were right. They told the truth about me (there were great tears in his eyes), I didn’t hold out. I soon failed. But God held out. He has never turned me loose. I know He saves.” Never will I forget the impression made on my mind by the quiet declaration made by that man that night. God had proven faithful. This, Christian people, is the whole secret. God holds out. God keeps His people. I get great confidence and great comfort from another point in my text.
6. CHRIST PRAYED AND YET PRAYS FOR HIS PEOPLE.
Hear What the Bible Says on the Subject: “Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me and I knew that thou hearest me always” (John 11:41-42). Oh, the confidence of the Son in the Father. “I knew that thou hearest me always.” Now brethren, note to whom Jesus prays: “Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me” (John 17:11). “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word” (John 17:20). Fellow Christians, that embraces you and me, That embraces every poor sinner who shall ever become a believer. The Father hears Jesus always. Jesus prays for His people. Listen again: “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not” (Luke 22:31-32). I told you about Satan wanting Job, but found that God had hedged him all about. Now he wants Simon Peter as he wants us all but Jesus said to Simon: “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not.” But the most consoling of all the Scriptures that bear upon this point, is the one that is a part of my text: “Wherefore He is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25). While we are here every day surrounded by grievous temptations, worried by sins, vexed by the Devil, many times stumbling, many times passing through great sorrow and tribulations, many times fighting hard battles, He is not for one moment forgetful of us. He is all this time at the right hand of the Father making intercession for us. “He ever liveth-He ever maketh intercession.” Will Jesus fail? Would He pray for an impossibility? He says that the Father always hears Him! See Still Another Line of Scripture Teaching.
7. THEY DECLARE THAT THE HOLY SPIRIT SEALS THE BELIEVER UNTO THE DAY OF REDEMPTION.
“Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption” (Eph. 4:30). When does this sealing take place’. After death, just before death, or as soon as a man believes? This is an important question. Again I beseech you, hear what the Bible says: “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession unto the praise of His glory” (Eph. 1:13-14). These Scriptures seem to unmistakably teach that, just as soon as the sinner accepts Christ-believes in Him, the Holy Spirit seals him forever. This sealing is here declared to be “the earnest of our inheritance.” The first installment. Yea, positive proof that we are to get it all. Christians, follow me further, and find yet another basis of hope on this subject.
BELIEVERS ARE DECLARED TO BE HEIRS OF GOD AND JOINT HEIRS WITH JESUS CHRIST.
Let us see what the Bible does say; and try to get its meaning. Listen: “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit Himself beareth witness with our Spirit that we are the children of God; and if children, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ” (Romans 8:15-17). Before commenting hear another passage: “But when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that they might receive the adoption of sons. And because we are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Jesus Christ” (Gal. 4:4-7). “Sons.” “Sons of God.” “Heirs of God.” “Joint heirs with Christ.” Brethren and sisters, hear me, and I am sure I speak reverently. If Christ’s title is good, then so is that of the believer. Note the fact: Believers are not only the adopted sons and daughters of God, but they are His children by birth as well. Born of the Spirit. The Bible in great mercy for our weakness, our lack of understanding, brings these great truths to us in many ways. Adopted children, and children by birth. Will the Father disinherit us? If we had been taken into His family because of some merit in us, then He might. But Christ, His own beloved Son, brought the whole thing about. It was for His sake that we were taken into the family of God. While Christ remains true to His younger brothers and sisters, there will be no disinheritance. If this thing fails, then either God or Christ will have to fail. It would indeed be our misfortune, our loss, our condemnation, but it would be God’s failure. Without anything to commend us, He adopted us. He made us His heirs and joint heirs with His Son. Beloved, I am persuaded that there will be no failure. Omniscience and omnipotence are back of the whole matter; let us take courage. There is still another glorious point in my text; hear it:
9. JESUS SAVES BELIEVERS FROM THEIR SINS.
“And thou shalt call His name Jesus; for He shall save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). This name was not given to the child of Bethlehem by Joseph or Mary. It was not given by any of their relatives or friends. This name came down from Heaven. “Thou shalt call His name Jesus.” Why this name? Why call Him Jesus? The author of the name gives the reason for the name: “For He shall save His people from their sins.” Who are His people? Everyone, young or old, of whatsoever nation, who accepts Christ as Savior. These are His people. These He will “save from their sins.” Ah, He knew they would sin-sin grievously many times. But these sins were not to damn them. He would save them from their sins. Please note the word “save.” I ask these questions: “Is a man saved as long as he is in danger? When a man trusts in Jesus is he then saved, or is he simply placed in a condition to be saved provided he holds out faithfully?” The Scriptures say saved. How can we call a man saved as long as he is in danger of being lost? If a man is saved, is not the danger of being lost gone forever? Oh, Brethren, there is a vast difference between being saved, and being put in a position to be saved, if something else is done, if some other condition is complied with! Why call His name “JESUS?” There is a glorious reason, yea, a glorious fact: “He shall save His people from their sins.” Brethren and sisters, let me give you yet other reasons whereby I was led to believe in the security of the believer. 1. It seemed to me, after a careful study of the Word, if we are not secure, and secure forever, and as soon as we believe in Jesus Christ I speak reverently, it seemed to me it might involve Christ in a falsehood. Note the following Scriptures: “My sheep hear my voice and I know them” (John 10:27). “Nevertheless the foundations of God standeth sure, having this seal, the Lord knoweth them that are His” (II Tim. 2:19). Bear these two plain statements in your mind. “I know them.” And “The Lord knoweth them that are His.” If we trust in Jesus today does not God know it? God the omniscient One, does He not know the very hour, yea, the very moment the penitent sinner believes in Him? Now see this picture, and hear these words: We are taught in the Bible that when we come to the judgment, that there will be a separation, that there will be but two crowds of people, the one on the right hand and the other on the left. There are not three, only two. All who go to the judgment will go to one or the other of these two classes. Now listen, to those on the right hand He will say: “Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matt. 25:34). To those on the left hand He will say: “I never knew ye, depart from me ye that work iniquity” (Matt. 7:23). “Depart from me ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the Devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41). Note these words: “I never knew you.” Would that be true if any in that crowd, on the left hand, had ever been Christians? In the face of these two plain statements: “I know them.” And, “The Lord knoweth them that are His,” if, when we are come to the judgment, God should say to those on the left, “I never knew you,” and there should be among that number, even one, who was once a Christian, would it not involve God in a falsehood? Surely, Brethren, those who finally go away, are those who never actually accepted Christ as Savior. Another reason why I believe in the believer’s security is this:
2. OTHERWISE IT WOULD MAKE THE SINNER’S CONDITION IN SOME RESPECTS EVEN BETTER THAN THE CHRISTIAN’S.
We are taught in the Word of God that the sinner is saved by grace. “By grace are ye saved through faith” (Eph. 2:8). Now if the believer is not secure, not already saved, then there has been added another condition to his salvation; that of “holding out.” If this is true, does not that make our condition worse than the sinner’s? The sinner is saved by grace. The Christian is saved by grace, and “holding out.” If this be true would not this be a strong argument in favor of postponing salvation until we are very old, or even until we come to die? Surely every hour of time in which we are to “hold out” would greatly add to our danger. Is it possible, brother that the sinner who has never trusted God has a better chance than the Christian? Does not this violate all the teaching of God’s Holy Word? Are we not all saved the same way? “By grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.” Salvation is not earned, before or after conversion; it is a gift. The question of holding out does not enter into it. We are given salvation once for all when we trust in Jesus Christ. Still another thing that had much to do with my believing in the permanent security of believers is:
3. IF A BELIEVER WERE TO ONCE FALL, HE WOULD BE IRRETRIEVABLY LOST.
As proof hear the Scripture: “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come. If they shall fall away, to renew them again to repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame” (Heb. 6:4-6). Note carefully every word of this remarkable passage: “Once enlightened.” “Tasted heavenly gift.” (“Gave His only begotten Son.” “Gift of God is eternal life.”) “Partaker of the Holy Ghost.” “Tasted the good word of God.” “And the powers of the world to come.” “It is impossible, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance.” To save such a man there must be a new Christ, or a fresh crucifixion of the old. He must be again wounded and bruised. There must be another Gethsemane, another Golgotha. But, oh, what good could even this do? If Christ, even by His suffering and death, failed once, would He not fail again? If being washed in the precious blood of the Son of God does not bring final remission the first time, how can it a second time? Surely the one that fails if he fails leaves hope forever behind him. But I am so glad that Paul said: “If they fall away.” He did not believe they would. However, he seemed determined to keep any poor mortal from hanging on to the idea that even if he fails, he will have one more chance. To fall means final and irretrievable ruin. But again:
4. IF A BELIEVER COULD FAIL, IT WOULD CAUSE TO ARISE A VERY PUZZLING QUESTION.
Hear it: How many sins, or what kind, would it require to cause a man to fall? Who can answer this puzzling question? What church can answer it? What man? What kind of sins or how many, after a man becomes a Christian, will damn his soul? I beg everyone to stop and consider these questions. Will one sin be enough to cause a man to fall? Will twenty? Will a hundred? We commit sins every day. Oh, what is the limit, that limit, beyond which if a man goes he falls, he is lost, hope of eternal life is gone? Can a man ever know he is near that line, or even when he has crossed it? Oh, puzzling question! But listen again:
5. IF A BELIEVER COULD FALL, IT WOULD MAKE SOME THINGS IN THE BIBLE APPEAR VERY INCONSISTENT.
See this passage, for instance: “I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth” (Luke 15:10). Get the whole picture in your mind. Here on the earth is a poor, convicted sinner. He is repenting, he is turning from his sins and turning to Christ as his Savior. His weak faith is beginning to take hold of Christ as his substitute. But this is only part of the picture; there are other spectators. Heaven is looking down on this scene. Look, as the sinner repents “there is joy in the presence of the angels.” Heaven is in ecstasy, Jesus Christ is rejoicing. How thrilling, how soul stirring this scene! But, wait, oh, do not make a mistake. Do not let your joy be premature. Oh, Jesus Christ, if that man is lost, your omniscience will have been proven false at least this once’. You have rejoiced over the returning prodigal, but the Devil comes along and cheats you out of him! Does Heaven make mistakes like that? Does Christ offer Salvation to a man, rejoice that he patiently stretches out his hand to receive it, and then jerk it back? Does Jesus do that? Jesus, being Omniscient, sees the repenting sinner, yet He knows that he will finally be lost, would He rejoice? Is it conceivable that Christ and the angels and all Heaven would rejoice over any repenting sinner if the question of final salvation were such an uncertain thing? How inconsistent in this would the Bible appear! TAKE ANOTHER PASSAGE: “I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself” (John 14:2-3). One of the sweetest thoughts to me about Heaven is, that it will fit. The Omniscient One that great, all wise Architect who knows all the needs for the past, for the present, for the future yea, throughout all eternity has prepared a place for us. It will fit! It will suit us when we first get there. It will always suit us. We will never be dissatisfied. Never want to move. Never want to rebuild. Prepared for us. But the puzzling question, the inconsistency is, why this long time previous preparation? If the question of salvation is still an unsettled question, why did Jesus go ahead to prepare a place? If the question of Peter’s salvation, of John’s, of Andrew’s and others was not settled, why such hasty preparation? Will Heaven be a home like some of our earthly homes empty chairs, empty places, some of the family missing? That would be true if some Christians failed to get there. But before concluding let us call your attention to some objections offered to the position taken in this sermon: SOME OBJECTIONS
1. SOME SAY, “IF I BELIEVED THAT DOCTRINE, THE ABSOLUTE SECURITY OF BELIEVERS, I WOULD TAKE MY FILL OF SIN.”
I, myself have heard this expression many times. But how amazing these words from a Christian! One who has been regenerated. One whose heart is changed. One who loves God and hates sin! I can thoroughly understand how the sow that was washed would return to her wallowing in the mire (II Peter 2:22). She was still a sow. Her nature was still unchanged. She loved the mire. If the sow had been regenerated transformed into a sheep she would not have returned to the mire. Accidentally, or driven by some outside force. She might have gotten into the mire again, but not from love of the mire!
I can thoroughly understand how the dog would return to his vomit (II Peter 2:22), simply because he remained a dog. His nature is unchanged. But I cannot understand how a genuinely regenerated man can talk of taking his fill of sin. I can thoroughly understand how the raven sent out by Noah, didn’t return to the Ark (Gen. 8:7). He did not need to return. Everywhere was food for his raven nature. He could feast and feast to his heart’s content. The whole surface of the waters was covered with dead bodies overwhelmed in the flood. Again, I can thoroughly understand why the dove did return to the Ark (Gen. 8:8-9). He could not eat carrion he did not love carrion, he must return to the Ark. Many a man who simply professes conversion, can go out into the world and be satisfied to stay. He still has his raven nature. He can with content and pleasure feast upon sin. Not so, however, the genuinely converted. His nature has been changed. He may go into sin. Led by the terrible tempter, he may go far astray. He, however, will never be at ease. Never be satisfied. Like the dove he will find no genuine rest for the sole of his foot. His new nature will revolt at sin. He will always long to come back. Note this scripture: “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (I John 2:15). “I would take my fill of sin.” For a regenerated man, a man with a new nature to guide him how much would it take to fill him? Sin is repulsive to the regenerated. I do not mean that the true Christian will not sin. The old nature will still fight the new. It will lead us to do many things that we do not love. Suppose a child who loves its mother tenderly and devotedly, because of the mother’s great devotion to it, the child should say: “I will take my fill of sin. I know my mother will continue to love me, therefore I will continue to do wrong.” What do you think of a Christian who would say: “I know God loves me and has saved me, therefore I will go just as far toward the Devil as I can.” Can anyone imagine a genuine Christian saying such a thing? But now note another objection:
2. SOME SAY, “BUT IT IS A FACT THAT SOME DO FALL AWAY.”
This statement I think is honestly believed by a great many. From my own personal experience, and from what I know of others, this I candidly believe to be the most serious difficulty on this whole question. There are so many professing Christians who seem to live right for a time and then go astray. They not only seem to be Christians, but are active and seem to be consecrated, and then go desperately astray. You may talk to one hundred people who believe that a Christian can fall, and possibly everyone of them will be influenced more or less by this very thing. Few of them will refer to the teachings of the Bible. They will tell you about this or that man who was once a Christian and fell away. They will bring up supposititious cases. This is their mighty argument! “Suppose this roan who is a Christian should kill a man.” “Suppose this.” “Suppose that.” The plain, direct and positive teachings of the Word of God are discounted by these imaginary cases. Recently I talked with a prominent man on this subject. He was an active member of the church to which he belonged. He firmly believed that it was possible for a Christian to be lost. Every time I referred him to the Word of God, he would suppose a case. I did my best to get him to see that the question was to be settled by the Bible and not by imagination. He, I believe, was perfectly honest in his conviction. In his church was another member, even more devout than he. She was perfectly devoted to her church, and had every evidence of being a Christian. She was conscientious and consecrated. And yet one day during an experience meeting, as brethren and sisters were telling their experiences, she was suddenly made to realize she had missed the whole thing. Afterwards, alone in her home what a mighty battle she had. She was led into the light. Her Christian experience, when she told it was glorious. I said to the troubled brother: “Suppose this sister, before this new experience, had gone off into sin and infidelity. What would you have thought, that surely she had fallen from grace?” He saw my point. Hear the Bible: “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us” (1 John 2:19).
This Scripture explains many supposed falls. How far a genuine Christian can go astray. I do not know. I am sure, that he can go a long way. But deep in his heart there will be a longing to get back to God.
3. BUT SAYS STILL ANOTHER: “THE BIBLE SAYS YOU MUST HOLD OUT TO THE END.”
Let us see what the Bible does say: “For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end” (Heb. 3:14). “Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him” (Heb. 10:38). These are declarations made by Paul. Many of the strongest passages in the whole of God’s Word on the security of the believer are found in the writings of Paul. He does not contradict himself. (For he was writing as he was influenced by the Holy Spirit Himself.) Besides, hear what he says in the same book from which the passages above are taken, and in the verse next to the last passage:
“But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul” (Heb. 10:39). Some may draw back, but not those who are genuinely converted. “Not believers,” said Paul. Why will men take isolated passages out of their immediate connection, when by their misuse they can only bring doubt, sorrow, and trouble? But see another passage frequently quoted: “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of Life” (Rev. 2:10). Thus they say, “You must be faithful unto death in order to be finally saved.” This is not the meaning of this Scripture. Nor does it say, “Be thou faithful unto death in order to be saved.” Hear definitely what it does say: “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of Live.” Not life, but a crown of life. 0h, how strongly the Bible teaches that the faithful shall be rewarded. A crown; God offers a reward, a crown, to every faithful servant. In conclusion, beloved, let me call your attention to two passages of Scripture: “For other foundations can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire” (I Cor. 3-11-15). “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if you do these things ye shall never fail: for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (II Peter 1:4-11). These two passages teach two important truths that all of us ought to know. They will help us mightily in rightly understanding this great subject we are now considering. The first teaches that, we may be saved so as by fire. The second that, we can have an abundant entrance into Heaven. Which do we want? We can have either. Do we want to be saved so as by fire? To just barely get to Heaven? Not have one single sheaf to lay at His feet? Never having led one soul to Christ? All the building we have done to find at last to be “wood, hay, and stubble.”
Beloved do we want this? Do we not want rather to have an abundant entrance? Not only saved ourselves, but others saved with us? All the building we have done, on the great foundation to be found at last to be “gold, silver, and precious stones.” What shall it be? What shall it be? “Ye therefore beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware, lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory now and forever.” (II Peter 3:17-18).