Hearing God for Salvation
Few issues contribute to more disunity in the body of Christ than an age old debate over eternal security. Some say “once saved, always saved”, while others make the case for Christians being able to lose their salvation.
Proponents of a permanent salvation point to verses like John 10:27-28, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.” The same would be said for the verses Hebrews 10:14, “For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified,” John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” and Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Those who advocate conditional salvation argue,”Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12-13 New King James Version (NKJV)
Nevertheless, how then can it be that we have to work out our salvation, when it is said in Ephesians 2:8, 9 that, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
Is this an oxymoron or another issue that we need to re-learn in order to get it right. This is another matter of doctrine we need to see changed in order to understand why it’s important to hear God and know His ways.
Can We Fall from Grace?
Those who believe in what John Wesley called “backsliding” to the point of returning to a lost condition refer to verses like Hebrews 6:4-6, “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.” 2 Peter 1:10 seems to indicate the possibility of a fall with the words, “Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble.” This sounds like the writer is saying it takes diligence on the part of Christians to avoid a fall from grace much like is referred to in Galatians 5:4, “You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.”
Which Side Is Right?
Each side of the argument has ample scriptural evidence to support their view point and this begs the question about which group is right. I believe that both sides are correct about what they espouse, however, both sides are wrong for not understanding the belief of the other camp.
It is time for the church to come to agreement and settle this dispute.
Is This a Strange Paradox?
The issue concerns confusion over what it means to be born-again as differentiated from being saved. Many if not most Christians do not know the difference if they are aware of one at all. In fact, the dissimilitude is substantial.
The reason for the confusion is lack of understanding as to where the experience of being born-again or saved take place. The Bible teaches that in much the same way God is three-in-one we are also tripartite. In a similar way to God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit we are also soul, body, and spirit. This is illustrated in Hebrews 4:12, “For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” We can see in this verse that we are soul, body, and spirit. This is reinforced in 1 Thessalonians 5:23 “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.”
The born-again experience takes place in the human spirit. Jesus explained this to Nicodemus in John 3:5 when he said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” Jesus tells Nicodemus that being born again is a spiritual event in verses 6-8, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
John 1:12-13 informs us that the second birth gives us the power to become a son of God. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” which is bolstered in Romans 8:14 with, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.”
Rebirth takes place in the human spirit which allows us to communicate with the Holy Spirit, as well as the angelic host. Our quickened and eternal life filled human spirit gives us a direct line to Heaven and enjoys perfect communication with the Holy Spirit as opposed to our soul which is comprised of the mind, will and emotions.
Paul makes the distinction in 1 Corinthians 14:14, “For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful.” We see from this that the human spirit and soul (i.e. soul meaning: mind, will and emotions) can operate independently as Paul says in verse 15, “What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding.”
God’s sovereignty is reflected in Man’s soul, which is the seat of the intellect, volition, and all feelings. Christians are free in the soul to agree with or reject what is coming from Heaven via their human spirit. Salvation takes place in the soul and effects the mental and physical condition.
Spiritual birth takes place in the human spirit and cannot be affected by the soul or body, nor any outside influence. This is evidenced in 1 Peter 1:23 “Having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever.”
We can look back at Philippians 2:12’s declaration to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;” and understand that spiritual rebirth is everlasting, separate, and different from salvation, which requires our deliberate attention and effort within our souls. Paul is in harmony with this train of thought when he says in Romans 12:2, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
The New Testament speaks of believing with the heart a great deal. The word heart means the seat of the desires, feelings, affections, passion, impulses, and thoughts. The heart operates in the area of the soul which governs the mind, will, and emotions. Romans 10:10 says, “For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Hebrews 4:12 tells us that thinking and exercising the will takes place in the heart, when the author writes that God “is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
Our hearts are aligned with God’s when our spirit is quickened by His Spirit and our Soul– (mind, will and emotions) comes into agreement with His Spirit, this creates a covenant arrangement that will empower us to fulfill His Will on Earth as it has been proclaimed from Heaven above.
It is to be understood, therefore, that we are born again in our human spirits and saved in our soul. Our spirits have been made alive and are incorruptible, while our souls have the option to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, which is in communication with our human spirit. We work out our salvation with fear and trembling in our soul. Hebrews 2:3 implies that we can choose to neglect our salvation, albeit to our detriment.
Galatians 5:4 speaks to the problem of falling from grace and verse 1 of the same chapter admonishes believers to “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” In our mind, will, and emotions we see many people that are entangled with the yoke of bondage in various forms, although they have had true conversion experiences.
An oft cited verse that specifically talks about “everlasting salvation” (not to be confused with eternal life), Isaiah 45:16-17, explains that “the makers of idols will go away together in disgrace, [they will all be put to shame and humiliated.] But Israel will be saved by the Lord with an everlasting salvation; you will not be put on shame or humiliated.” God had already promised that He would never completely destroy Israel, and by extension the spirits of those born-again, but those who created and sought other gods, including our desires outside His Will would be subject to “disgrace, shame, or humiliation.”
Christians are always and forever in right standing before God in their human spirit according to Hebrews 12:23, “To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.”
Our regenerated human spirit is holy and without blame, while in the soul, there is an ongoing struggle to align our mind, will, and emotions with it. This involves a learning process and discipline on the part of the Christian to achieve the status of a heart, i.e. the mind united with the spirit, in line with God. This is what is meant by renewing the mind. It is no wonder why the spiritual armor associated with salvation in Ephesians 6:17 is a helmet.
Instead of “once saved, always saved“, we should rather understand that once we are born-again, we are always born again. Indeed, we can neglect our salvation and fall from grace to the effect that even a born-again person can experience a hellish existence because of sin.
Can we sin and still go to heaven?
Written by, Kent Simpson, Apostolic Prophet
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