There is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus

Hello Ralph!

Don't know if you've heard this one (don't see it on the list) but "there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1). The Greek word for "condemnation" carries the meaning of an adverse judicial sentence and the penalty that sentence demands. If the penalty for sin is death (and it is), and if Christ died in my place, and if I am now "in Christ," then I am dead to sin. Thus, no condemnation for me... for me to lose my salvation & go to Hell, God would have to also condemn Christ, for I am "in Him." Now, to live is Christ!

Enjoying much of your site--will be back often to read what you've got,

Eternally secure in the Body of Christ,

My response is in Green:

I think you missed my whole point. You said if you are in Christ then... I would agree, but what if you cease to be in Christ? That is the point and there are many verses which warn us of this.

Can you (at your leisure) provide me with three of the strongest passages that support your assertion that someone who is "in Christ" can be separated from Him? Or any examples of that happening in the Bible?

Let me start by telling you my story, since on your page with the questionnaire you asked if I had ever lost my salvation, etc... I have never lost my salvation and that is exactly why I did not bother to answer all the questions on your form. They ask the wrong questions. See I don't believe you can lose your salvation and therefore I can't answer how many sins it takes for a person to lose their salvation. I do believe that we, like the son in the parable of the Prodigal son can decide to reject our relationship.

This is exactly what happened to me. I grew up in a Christian home, my father was a pastor. I understood what it was to be a Christian and I asked Jesus into my heart at about 7 or 8 years old. No one can tell me I wasn't a Christian. I understood that I had been born in sin, that I had sinned and was under a death sentence from God, who is holy and demands death for anyone who sins. I understood that Jesus Christ was God's Son and had come to earth as a human being and lived a sinless life and died in my place to atone for my sins. I asked Him into my heart and did my best to follow Him.

Then I joined the Marine Corps. I made friends with people who did not know Christ and I began to live like them. You asked how I know I was lost. That is easy, God told me. I knew what I was 'deliberately' doing was sin. I would come home drunk and lie down on the bed with one foot on the floor to keep the room from spinning and confess my sins so that if I died I would go to heaven. I confessed them because I knew in my heart that what I was doing was wrong. I also knew in my heart that I was lost. See God was dealing with me and drawing me back, but I did not want to give up what the world had to offer. I stayed in rebellion against God for over 20 years. When I got married to my second wife she asked me to take her to church. She had been raised Catholic, but knew there was something missing. I found a church and started going with her. She heard about God's love and forgiveness for the first time in her life. It was old hat to me, I did not want to waste my time. God started dealing with her heart and she soon gave her life to Christ. I was upset, she was turning into my parents. I knew in my heart that I had a problem and that I was lost, because God kept dealing with me, but I kept refusing to listen.

Then one day as I watched her read her Bible with joy, I wanted that joy too. I went back to the foot of the cross and gave my life to Christ, yes for the second time. You can claim I was never saved the first time if you like, but you are wrong. You can claim that if I had died in those 20 years I would have gone to heaven, but I know that is wrong too. I was the Prodigal Son. I left my family (God) and went away. While I was gone I was lost and dead. I only became alive and found when I chose to come back to Christ. If you read that parable you will see my life. I was a son, but I chose to leave that family and only was saved when I came back.

I have known other people who were saved. You can tell by their fruit, who later decided that it was all a lie and walked away. They are lost today. You can't make a fool out of God, like I tried by praying every night I came home drunk. The Bible clearly says that the place for all drunkards is hell. The Bible also clearly says you can't continue to deliberately sin and be saved.

I will give you the three examples you asked for. I don't mean to sound condescending but I would ask you to look at them with open eyes not through the doctrine of once saved always saved. The reason I say that is because of the problem most people have who believe as you do. They are willing to fit any scripture to their beliefs instead of fitting their beliefs to any scripture. Let me give you a very quick example of what I mean.

Would you agree that the Bible clearly says that God is light and in Him there is no darkness? (1 John 1:5 NIV) This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.

Yet when Jesus speaks of the outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth, both Tony Evans and Charles Stanley say that place of darkness is in heaven! Why would they say that? Because they have to in order to explain how these people are saved yet in darkness and suffering. If a person is willing to jump through those kinds of rings then there is nothing in scripture that I could possibly show you that would make any difference. John McArthur says that one of the churches (the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3) was a totally unbelieving church, with no true believers at all. Yet this church had a lampstand and was written to by Christ. I am sorry, I can't remember which church he refers to off the top of my head. This makes no sense. Why would Christ write a letter to a church with no believers and tell them that the over comers will make it to heaven? It makes no sense.

Sorry I got side tracked, but as I said it might be easy for you to just dismiss the things I show you, but I ask that you think about them with an open mind.

I want to start with Judas. I don't think that you would disagree that he is in hell today, but was he ever saved? That is the real question.

We know that he was chosen to be an Apostle:

(Matthew 10:2-4 NIV) [2] These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; [3] Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; [4] Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

Would Jesus pick someone who did not believe to be an Apostle? I don't think so. He sent them out together to drive out demons, to heal the sick and to even raise the dead, not to mention preaching the good news. Would Jesus call an unbeliever to do those things? I don't think so, but let's check further.

We see in John that Jesus says the person who betrays Him would be called His friend and share His bread. Jesus says this is to fulfill Scripture. Here is the passage from John:

(John 13:18 NIV) I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill the scripture: 'He who shares my bread has lifted up his heel against me.'

Now if you look at what Scripture Jesus was referring to, you will find something even more interesting:

(Psalm 41:9 NIV) Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.

Notice it not only says 'my close friend' but also 'whom I trusted.' We know that Jesus knew men's hearts, we know that Jesus knew Judas was going to betray Him in the end, yet this passage shows that at least at one time Judas was a trusted friend. Who, don't forget, was made an Apostle. We tend to focus on just the twelve disciples because they were chosen to be Apostles, but there were at times hundreds of followers (disciples) from whom Jesus could have picked twelve to be Apostles. Why would He choose Judas? Even if He had not chosen him he still could have been a friend who betrayed Him. I believe He chose Him because at that time he (Judas) was as much a saved believer as the other eleven. Yet he chose later to reject Christ and betray Him. It is the only way to make sense of these passages.

The other two examples won't be people just passages which support what I am trying to say. People don't like to use parables because they claim you can't make a point with them, but I disagree Jesus made points with them and even explained what many of them meant. Here is an example:

(Matthew 13:1-9 NIV) [1] That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. [2] Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. [3] Then he told them many things in parables, saying: "A farmer went out to sow his seed. [4] As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. [5] Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. [6] But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. [7] Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. [8] Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop-a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. [9] He who has ears, let him hear."

Now I have had many OSAS believers tell me that the only person who truly believed was the one represented by the good soil. All the others never really believed. Does this hold water? I don't think so, but before going any further let's see how Jesus explained this Himself:

(Matthew 13:18-23 NIV) [18] "Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: [19] When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path. [20] The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. [21] But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away. [22] The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. [23] But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown."

Jesus says that those who heard but did not understand are represented by the hard soil where the devil comes and snatches away the seed (word). So the first thing we know is that there other three types of soil (people) did understand. The rocky place hears the word, understands it and receives it with great joy. The seed germinates and even starts to grow, but has no root and therefore does not last long. But look at how Jesus stated this: "he lasts only a short time." You can't 'last' at anything for any amount of time if you did not have that thing to start with. Jesus goes on to say that the person "quickly falls away." Why did they fall away? Because of trouble and persecution caused by the word. How can someone be troubled and persecuted because of the word and then fall away if they never really believed in the first place? The soil where the weeds are also germinated and started to grow. You can't choke out a plant that has not started to grow at all. The very idea of choking it out means it was growing at one time.

Here is something Jesus said outside of a parable:

(John 15:6 NIV) If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.

A person who was never in Christ cannot remain or fail to remain. You have to have been somewhere to remain. Now I have been told that this only refers to the refining fire and losing rewards, but again I think you have to jump through some hoops to believe that.

So that I can keep this as short as possible I will only quote part of the next passage:

(Luke 12:42-46 NIV) [42] The Lord answered, "Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? [43] It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. [44] I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. [45] But suppose the servant says to himself, 'My master is taking a long time in coming,' and he then begins to beat the menservants and maidservants and to eat and drink and get drunk. [46] The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers."

I think I quoted enough to show what Jesus was talking about. Can it be that this servant was an unbeliever? No, he would not be a servant of the master if that were true. Is it possible that he is only going to lose his reward? I don't think so when Jesus says, "he will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers." Sounds like real punishment to me.

(James 5:19-20 NIV) [19] My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, [20] remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

How about this one. Anyone who turns a sinner from the error of his ways. Yet this person is called a brother. Again I have been told that this means you will have saved him from physical death. Sorry that is not what it says nor what it implies.

(Romans 2:7-8 NIV) [7] To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. [8] But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.

Does this rejection of the truth have to be from the beginning? Or if someone who has believed the truth, then rejects it can it be them also? I say it can be.

(Romans 11:17-24 NIV) [17] If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, [18] do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. [19] You will say then, "Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in." [20] Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. [21] For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.
[22] Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. [23] And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. [24] After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!

Here again I have been told this does not mean what it says, it means the nation Israel, not individuals. Come on, it clearly says that those who were broken off were broken off because of unbelief and we stand by faith, but if we become unbelievers we will be broken off too. Sorry but that seems pretty clear, without the filter of some doctrine clouding it.

(Galatians 1:6 NIV) I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel-

I say that this passage proves you can desert the faith and follow other teachings. Does it prove these people are then lost? Maybe, maybe not, but it sure adds weight to the argument that it is possible.

(Ephesians 5:3-7 NIV) [3] But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people. [4] Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. [5] For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person-such a man is an idolater-has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. [6] Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient. [7] Therefore do not be partners with them.

Don't be deceived by empty words. That is Paul's advise to the believers in Ephesus. Why warn them about this if it is not possible? No immoral, impure or greedy person- has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ. If as OSAS teaches we all sin every day and are all still sinners then this passage is not true, because according to OSAS we (such people) do have an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ.

(1 Thessalonians 3:5 NIV) For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith. I was afraid that in some way the tempter might have tempted you and our efforts might have been useless.

Paul knew what their faith was last time he was with them, but he needed to check again and see since he was afraid the tempter might have made his efforts useless. Read this without the preconceived ideas of "any" doctrine. Read it for what it says and then decide which doctrine is true.

(2 Peter 1:10-11 NIV) [10] Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, [11] and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

If you do these things you will never fall. So what if you don't do these things? Why make the statement if the opposite is not possible?

Speaking of the Old Testament Saints the author of Hebrews says;

(Hebrews 11:13 NIV) All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.

Notice they were still living by faith when they died. That is what I am talking about. It is not a sin or two or a million which separate people from Christ after they have believed it is no longer believing in Him as their Lord and Savior. That is why I can't answer the question how many sins does it take. For one person it might be only one, for another hundreds of sins might not separate them from God, it is a matter of the heart and faith. We stand by faith, if we quit having faith we will be broken off and burned.

(Galatians 5:2-4 NIV) [2] Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. [3] Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. [4] You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.

These can't be unbelievers since Christ is already of no value to them unless they believe. So how can Christ become of no value to a believer? If that person does something else to obtain heaven they are saying they no longer believe that what Jesus did was enough, that is how. It is again a lack of faith. This is not a hard passage to understand unless you have to make it fit a certain teaching or doctrine.

(Matthew 13:41-42 NIV) [41] The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. [42] They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

"All who do evil" will be thrown into the fiery furnace. We cannot be saved and live any way we choose, like I tried when I was living like the world. If you live like the world you are part of the world.

(James 4:4 NIV) You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.

Anyone who chooses, which shows that they were not but then decided to become friends with the world. Then it goes on to say, "becomes an enemy of God." Again those where are not believers are already enemies of God, they don't become one.

(1 Corinthians 3:16-17 NIV) [16] Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? [17] If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple.

Look at this passage very carefully. Now OSAS believers tell me that this means that God will kill the person physically. Does that make any sense at all? We are being told that our body is the temple of God and that if we destroy that temple God will... destroy that temple? That makes no sense. It only makes sense if you take it for what it says. That we are the temple of God and that if we destroy that temple God will destroy us, our soul.

In the letter to the churches in Revelation Jesus says something very interesting to the church at Sardis:

(Revelation 3:4-5 NIV) [4] Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. [5] He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels.

Here is my question. How could these people have not soiled their garments? Those garments would have had to been clean to start with, right? It cannot be saying that these people were clean because they never sinned. The Bible clearly teaches that "ALL" have sinned and come short of the glory of God. So these would have to have been people who were cleansed by the blood of the Lamb. But now look closely at what Jesus is saying; "a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes." Common sense dictates that this means there were at least some people who did soil their cloths. If it does not matter as OSAS teaches then why does Jesus make such a distinction?

In all the letters to all the churches Jesus makes statements to the effect that those who overcome will have eternal life. Again this implies that those who don't overcome, won't.

Well this has gotten pretty long so I will close, but I have by no means listed all the passages in the New and Old Testaments which talk about continuing.

I hope I have not come over as rude, I don't mean to be. In closing I wanted to address one issue that kind of bothers me. You have not done this, but I have been accused many times of preaching a works salvation. The idea goes something like this. If a person has to continue in the faith then that is holding on to their salvation by works. Here is my problem with that idea. At least I don't think you would disagree that God requires faith from us to obtain salvation, yet the Bible clearly says this is not a work on our part. So why does believing that we must continue to have that saving faith make it a work? I just wonder why OSAS believers have such a problem considering that God not only requires faith for us to be saved in the first place but also requires us to continue in that faith to remain in Christ. I am not trying to argue the point, I just wonder why that idea seems to offensive.

Anyway, I hope I was able to show you where I am coming from. I don't believe we lose our salvation, I think we quit believing and thereby give our free gift back and walk away. When does this happen? It depends on the individual, but I will guarantee they know it. They will not wake up one day and wonder what happened to their salvation.

Take care,
Ralph

I make it a practice not to edit things sent to me, but sometimes you have to make an exception. I want to explain the following which is an exception. What follows was a continuing dialog that this gentleman and I had. I have not edited what he wrote, but I have edited the way the conversation went. I did this because otherwise it would not make any sense to someone who was not involved. What is posted is accurate but may not be in the same order or sequence that the orginal messages occured. I have also added (in black) comments to help explain the flow of the conversation.

Forgive me for saying so, but I don't think you realize that knife cuts both ways. OS-AS isn't the primary issue here, at least not for me - that's only what sparked this conversation. Anyway, it looks to me like you're doing the same thing you accuse OS-AS people of often doing. But instead of forcing Scripture to fit preconceived doctrines, you seem to be, at least in part, forcing Scripture to fit your life experience...at least that's seems to be where a large chunk of your beliefs on falling away/walking away comes from. And I used to believe it, too, for almost identical reasons as those you stated.

But as I said, OS-AS isn't the main issue, no matter what one thinks about it. The issue is this: are we "approved workmen" who "rightly divide" the Scripture (2 Tim 2:15)? Please don't be offended, for I mean no offense, brother - but I don't believe you are rightly dividing the Word and I believe I can demonstrate that here (just as someone who I met over the Net demonstrated it to me). I believe your practice of going back to the Gospels (parables, beatitudes, sermon on the mount, 'great commission,' etc) and then interpreting Paul's warnings in light of them - as if it's all one unit - is twisting Scripture.

I can only assume you do not recognize the quantum shift in God's dealings with men from the time of the Gospels to the time of Paul, though it is plainly real (one example: compare Matthew 28:19/Mark 16:16 with 1 Cor 1:17/Eph. 4:5). That is the ONLY reason I said you twist Scripture; you HAVE to twist it to "reconcile" much of what Christ said to Israel alone with what Paul said to Jew and Gentile alike.

Here are the passages he listed:

(Matthew 28:19 NIV) [19] Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

(Mark 16:16 NIV) [16] Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

(1 Corinthians 1:17 NIV) [17] For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel-not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

(Ephesians 4:5 NIV) [5] one Lord, one faith, one baptism;

But much of it does NOT fit, WON'T fit, CANNOT fit, and God is not pleased when we try to MAKE them fit, because they're not MEANT to fit (2 Cor 5:16 is a BIG clue as to why).

Here is the passage:

(2 Corinthians 5:16 NIV) [16] So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.

He requoted something I said next, then went on with his reply:

"I just wonder why OSAS believers have such a problem considering that God not only requires faith for us to be saved in the first place but also requires us to continue in that faith to remain in Christ. I am not trying to argue the point, I just wonder why that idea seems to offensive."

I don't know if I'd say I find it offensive, just wrong.

For someone to say (as I assume you are saying) that one is saved by faith but must continue in faith to be saved...well, that does smell faintly like faith is being retrofitted into a work. It smells like that or Calvinism, which is just as wrong but for different reasons.

For me, I go back to when Paul wrote that we're "sealed" with the Holy Spirit...that, plus we who are born from above are given a new nature from above. Those two facts are more than enough to convince me that I will continue to believe - not because God MAKES me persevere in faith, or because I MUST or I'll go to hell - but because I am now sealed into the Body of Christ and my new nature is in tune with Him. Sin is no longer my "default setting," praise God!!!

Can I still sin? You don't even have to ask. I may even be faithless, but because I'm sealed in Him:

"If we believe not, He abideth faithful, for He cannot deny Himself"

...I am part of Himself! And so are you! Do you see exactly who and what you are "in Christ,"? You're eternally secure whether you believe it or not :) because YOU ARE ONE WITH CHRIST - FOREVER! You HAVE eternal life - life that is eternal! You can't lose it, and if you really have it, you can't surrender it! Ain't that the BEST news you've heard all day!?

Now consider your argument. Let's assume you're right that we could "walk away" from Christ, from salvation, from ALL of it. That would demand the seal of the Spirit would have to be BROKEN, yes? And Christ must lose members of His very Body, true? God would LOSE one of those Christ said He would NEVER lose, right? We'd prove Paul WRONG in Romans 8:1 because, in order to walk AWAY from salvation, we'd obviously be walking TOWARD... what? CONDEMNATION. There's no third choice! Hence your view creates multiple contradictions in Scripture because, when you boil it all down, God has no legal basis on which to condemn us anymore (being "in Christ," we're dead to the Law). But if we COULD walk away (since there's no Limbo) He'd HAVE to condemn us. But He CAN'T. So you're stuck.

I have learned to argue with people's personal, subjective experienes ONLY when God's Word contradicts them...if they believe contrary to what God's Word says, THEN I take a stand.

So If I'm able to read, and if you're not using some form of English I don't understand, then what you say happened to you cannot have happened. And not only that - you contradict yourself in describing it.

On the one hand you say:

You say: "I have never lost my salvation...see I don't believe you can lose your salvation."

But then you turn around and contradict yourself:

"God told me" that "I was lost." You even say you'd have gone to Hell if you'd died during that 20 year period.

Are you playing word games. Unless you're secretly using definitions of "lose," "lost" and "saved" no Christian uses, your testimony makes no sense. You say you went from "on my way to Heaven" to "on my way to Hell" and are now "on my way to Heaven" again. I've read it five times now.

This reply was not sent here, but for clearity I will post it here.

I am not playing word games. I did not lose my salvation, but I did walk away from it. The word I used for my state when that happened was lost, but you know what I meant. Let me change it and not say lost, let's say I was again under God's holy judgment.

I won't pretend to know where you are with God, but based on your testimony I see three biblical options, and one unbiblical option (not that you asked but here they are):

1) You were never saved, and are not saved now.

2) You were never saved, only thought you were (merely moral/religious), but now are saved. You then, quite naturally, "backslid" into sin because you'd never "slid forward" in the first place. Now you're saved.

3)You were saved, but went carnal, then repented. It spooked you so badly you're now convinced you were actually lost and on your way to Hell the whole time you were in sin. But you weren't lost at all (by "lost" I mean "eternally"). God chastised you and brought you back to Him, like the carnal Corinthian saints we see repentent and restored in 2 Corinthians.

Finally...

4) You were truly saved, then truly lost, and are now truly saved again. That means we can toss our Bibles into the trash (Romans 8 and Hebrews 6, among other passages, would have to be false for your testimony to be true).

In Romans 8 Paul speaks of there being no condemnation of those in Christ and that those in Christ are not under the law. I don't have any disagreement with this, but I do with the use he is making of it. Look at a couple of verses in this chapter:

(Romans 8:5-8 NIV) [5] Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. [6] The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; [7] the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to Godís law, nor can it do so. [8] Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.

If you notice in this passage Paul is explaining that those who live in accordance with the Spirit, have life, but those who don't can't please God. In fact he says the mind of sinful man is death. Now I say he is still speaking to believers, who if they live according to the Spirit will have life, but if they choose to live according to the sinful mind will then have death.

In Hebrews 6 it talks about a person who wanders from the truth not being able to come back to Christ. The problem is that this is referring to Jews who after being saved then were being tempted to go back to Judaism to either make another sacrifice for their sins or to touch all bases so to speak. The author of Hebrews is telling them that if they, now that they know the truth, go back to another system for the forgiveness of their sins, i.e. animal sacrifices, then they are in fact rejecting Christ's sacrifice as not sufficent to take away their sins. And if they do that, they cannot come back because they have already rejected the perfect sacrifice. This has nothing to do with a person who walks away from their salvation, but does not then try to obtain salvation through another sacrifice. So it does not apply to our converstation.

Paul says much the same thing in a passage I quoted in my original reply.

(Galatians 5:2-4 NIV) [2] Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. [3] Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. [4] You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.

Paul is telling them that if they try to please God by upholding the law (and thereby being justified by it) after accepting Christ as their perfect sacrifice they are nullifying His sacrifice for their sins.

I think it's a toss-up between 2 and 3.

And that's why I said (and still say, forgive me) that you HAVE to twist Scripture to prove your whole point against the believer's eternal security in Christ, as based upon the sealing ministry of the Holy Spirit and our adoption by God as full-grown sons.

At any rate, I would ask you to note that the majority of passages wherein perseverence unto salvation is stated will come from the Gospels, or from letters not written by Paul. Check it out, you'll notice the pattern.

I would like to ask you a question. Not to cause problems but so that I better understand what you are saying. I don't mean to put words in your mouth, but I want to explain what I think you are saying and allow you to correct me or confirm it. I have often been told by OSAS believers (for lack of a better description) that the Old Testament is basically not relevant to us today. Now if I understood what you were saying, it is that not only is the Old Testament not relevant to a believer today, but the same is true for the New Testament other than Paul's writings.

I understood your statement to mean that because you talked about how I must not understand the quantum difference between the way God dealt with people in Jesus' day and the way He deals with people when Paul wrote. If I have what you said wrong, then please let me know. If I have it right but have expressed it wrong, please correct me. It is important that I understand this, or I can't understand the rest of what you are saying. I have not heard this before. I wondered how you could claim I was twisting Scripture by quoting both from the Gospels and Paul's writing, but if this is what you believe, then at least I am beginning to understand why you would have said that.

The next question is, is it only Paul's writings that a believer today should care about? What I mean is what about he books written by James, Jude, Peter and John? What about Hebrews, since people can't agree whether Paul wrote it or not?

I am not trying to pick a fight or back you into a corner, but I would like to know what you believe.

I guess it all depends on what you mean by "relevant." Since I'm not sure what YOU mean by that, I'll go with what I mean by "relevant."

We have a saying: "All Scripture is FOR us, but not all Scripture is addressed TO us, nor is it all ABOUT us." Different books of the Bible are like letters in a post office...this one goes to this person in this slot, that book is addressed to that person over there. READ THE ADDRESS and there's no confusion. Everybody gets their mail.

Paul's letters are "our mail."

Does that mean we take X-acto knives and cut out everything not written by Paul? (some have accused us of that) Absolutely not. ALL Scripture is profitable. Romans 15:4 says that ALL Scripture is useful to us...it is ALL relevant in that we should study Genesis to Revelation. In fact, one HAS to do so in order for the Pauline revelation to make any sense.

But that doesn't change the fact that some of the Bible is "dispensationally obsolete" as far as carrying it out goes (sign gifts is only one example), but that does not make it any less the Word of God.

So when you ask about relevance, are you asking if I think all Scripture equally APPLICABLE to us today? Nope, it ain't - at least not without being inconsistent in practice, and not without being unable to reconcile seemingly contradictory passages, and ending up with a couple thousand denominations all bickering with each other.

For example, Jesus SAID, "Whatsoever ye shall ask for in prayer, believing ye shall receive" (Matt. 21:22). I don't know about you, but that's one promise of Christ's that I don't bother with, simply because he didn't address it to us. It's not our mail. Claim that promise and prepare to be disappointed.

Rightly divide the Word and you won't be!

A word about that, too: some think when we say "rightly divide the Word of Truth" (which Paul said first), we're cutting the Word apart. NO - we're recognizing the dispensational divisions ALREADY PRESENT in the Scripture. When we do that, the entire Word actually FITS TOGETHER as God intended it to, and it literally becomes a whole new Book. That's been my experience, and the experience of many people I know. The Bible actually becomes a joy to read because you finally see where all the pieces fit - ALL of them! Praise God!

I don't disagree that God has dealt with mankind in different ways at different times, but I do disagree with your ideas that what Jesus said was only appliable to the Jews. People try to say the same things about the Old Testament. I have been told that God did not deal at all with the Gentiles until Paul's ministry. You have to be ignorant of God's word to believe that. There are many stories in the Old Testament which show that God did deal with Gentiles. Sodom and Gomorrah come to mind. Nineveh is another that comes to mind. Now people might say that God only judged Gentiles in the Old Testament, but again I refer to Nineveh, which God made His reluctant prophet visit.

We claim that He never changes, so we can be sure that He did not judge anyone without them having a chance at salvation. Was judgment carried out immediately in the sense that it did not wait until the end of time? Of course it did, but that does not mean God was not the same then. The Law and the Old Testament both show us (mankind) that we are unable to please God by what we do, we need help, we need a Redeemer. The Saints in the Old Testament and the Jews in the New Testament before Paul's ministry and any Gentiles as well were saved the same way we are today. By believing that God would send a perfect sacrifice to reconcile us to Him. You should pick up the book "Eternity in Their Hearts" and read it. It is very interesting and shows that God deals with people through their hearts even before they have the oportunity to read Paul's writings.

I am not denying that Paul received further revelation, but I am also telling you that I can lead someone to Christ using other books and never even mentioning Paul or his writing. I don't, because I use the whole Bible, but the point is still there. The Gospel is throughout the Old Testament. In one of the articles you sent me it talked about the Berean's who listened to Paul's message and checked it againt the Scriptures. What Scriptures? It had to be the Old Testament, since Paul's writings are ealier then the Gospels. So the Bible praises them for doing what you tell me is twisting the Sciptures. They checked one part against the other and found it to be consistant.

Are we under the Law? Of course not. Do we have commandments we must follow? Yes we do, and Paul is the one who gave us most of them. Do we have to continue in the faith once we are saved? I say we do and again I can prove my point using only Paul's writings:

(Romans 2:7-8 NIV) [7] To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. [8] But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.

(Romans 11:17-24 NIV) [17] If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, [18] do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. [19] You will say then, "Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in." [20] Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. [21] For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.
[22] Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. [23] And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. [24] After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!

(Galatians 1:6 NIV) I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel

(Ephesians 5:3-7 NIV) [3] But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people. [4] Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. [5] For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person-such a man is an idolater-has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. [6] Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient. [7] Therefore do not be partners with them.

(1 Thessalonians 3:5 NIV) For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith. I was afraid that in some way the tempter might have tempted you and our efforts might have been useless.

(Galatians 5:2-4 NIV) [2] Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. [3] Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. [4] You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.

(1 Corinthians 3:16-17 NIV) [16] Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? [17] If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple.

I did not put comments with any of those because they were all in my first reply to you with my comments.

(Colossians 1:21-23 NIV) [21] Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. [22] 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-[23] if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

"If you continue in your faith!"

(1 Timothy 2:13-15 NIV) [13] For Adam was formed first, then Eve. [14] And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. [15] But women will be saved£ through childbearing-if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.

"If they continue in faith..."

(1 Timothy 4:16 NIV) Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

What if he doesn't? Wouldn't this verse show that if he didn't he would not save himself and his hearers? Of course you can claim this just means his save his physical body, but I am sorry that makes no sense.

You quoted the verse about even if we are unfaithful Christ will remain faithful. Again I certainly don't disagree with that passage, but what does it mean? Does it mean that if we are unfaithful that He won't notice and won't care? I don't think it means anything like that. If you claim that then you have a problem with much of the other passages I have quoted from Paul. Not to mention passages from Jesus' own mouth, but I won't quote them since you don't think they are relevant to us in this time.

But let's go back to that passage again and let me quote the whole passage:

(2 Timothy 2:11-13 NIV) [11] Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; [12] if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; [13] if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.

Verse 13 is the one you quoted from. Yet you must also read the others. "If we endure, we will also reign with him." "If we disown him, he will also disown us." If you look at those two statements, then it makes the last statement in verse 13 clearer. He will disown us, but He won't disown Himself. He remains faithful to Himself even if we aren't, but that does not mean anything about eternal security.

Paul continually warns believers that people who are sexually immoral, drunkards, swindlers, liars, etc... won't get to heaven. Why? Why not just tell them that they know that no sinner will get to heaven? Why name these things, unless what he means is that you can't be a believer and live like this? That would be very consistent with his other writings saying that they must continue in the faith. Anyone who continues in the faith will not live like this. This is not a minor issue, it has eternal consequences.

One last thing. I want to try to address the idea that we are sealed and therefore nothing can ever bring us back under judgment. That sounds great, but it does not hold water if you keep it consistent with the rest of God's word, so we need to look at it again. Below are four of the passages where Paul talks about this seal.

(Ephesians 1:13-14 NIV) [13] And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, [14] who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession-;to the praise of his glory.

(Ephesians 4:30 NIV) And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

(2 Corinthians 1:21-22 NIV) [21] Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, [22] set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

(Colossians 3:2-4 NIV) [2] Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. [3] For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. [4] When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

The first thing you notice when looking at all of these passages is that they all pertain to something we don't yet have. 'deposit guaranteening,' 'for the day of redemption,' 'guaranteening what is to come,' 'when Christ, ... appears...' You may wonder what my point is, it is that this seal (the Holy Spirit) is God's guarantee to us that He will give us what He promised. It does not imply in any way that if we later choose to leave Christ that we can't. In fact the idea that we have not yet gotten what has been promised would give strenght to the argument that we can walk away. And it makes these verse fit as you say hand in glove with the rest of what Paul's writings say.

I have tried hard not to quote anyone except Paul, but I am going to quote from Hebrews now:

(Hebrews 11:13 NIV) All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.

Why bother to tell us that these people were still living in faith when they died, unless it is important? Notice they had not yet received the things promised. You say we should rightly divide the word, I agree, but part of rightly dividing it is believing what it plainly says.

I will let you respond if you like, but I don't feel much like carrying this much further. You are not going to change your mind and I don't think you will change mine. We both read the same Scripture but we interpret it differently. I still say it does not even matter as long as we both continue in the faith and I still say if we both become faithless, then one of us will be surprised come judgment day. If I am welcomed into heaven even though I rejected and disowned Christ I will be surprised. If you are turned away for doing the same thing you will be surprised. But if we both continue, then we will both spend eternity in heaven and we might both be surprised that we did not have all the answers. I plan on continuing, I am not in the least afraid of falling from grace or disowning my Lord. I stand by His power as long as I choose to avail myself of it.

Take care.

Ralph

Then forgive me for carrying this on so long, for it is clear you wish to persist in your defense of a false gospel (one that can save you but cannot keep you - that's not the good news of the grace of God). I expected you to be more open than you have proved to be, and I suspect you find you are unable to answer from Scripture much of what I've said, so I apologize for wasting your time.

Nice parting shot from someone who has not answered the Scriptures I sent right from the start, but that is okay, believe anything you choose to.

I already have them replied to - I just hadn't sent them yet, as I already told you. I put it on hold once you asked why I beleived what I believed, figuring your understanding my position would make such a reply irrelevant.

I DID respond - IN DETAIL - to your use of the parable of the son and your comments on the Judgment Seat, and neither of them got anything from you except "I don't believe that." So what would have been the point of my responding to anything else you said?

I hesitated a little bit about posting this final exchange. I do not want to just post bickering or attacks, but yet I felt this was important. This is what happens most of the time I try to debate with someone who disagrees with me. In the end if I don't change my view my salvation is questioned. You might ask where this gentleman questioned my salvation, so I will point it out to you. When he says that I am defending a false gospel that is questioning my salvation. Only the true gospel can save, so if I am indeed following a false gospel I can't be saved.

Just to make sure that my record of this conversation is correct, this gentleman did send me more than what is posted, however, I did not post what he sent because it was copied and pasted from other's websites and books. He sent me a whole message with copied and pasted material from a book about the parable of the Prodigal Son. I did not respond back to him about it, other than to tell him that I disagreed and would not discuss others works, I wanted this to be a discussion between us. He later sent me more copied and pasted material, which I also did not respond to. These are all reasons I decided I did not want to continue with this. He claims that he replied to all the Scriptures I listed in my very first reply, but that he has never sent them to me. Okay, I take his word for that, but that is my point, he has never responded to me with any discussion of those passages, yet he claims I am the one who is unable to defend my position. The only exception is of course his sending me the other person's material on the Prodigal Son, and he did send some information on the Judgment Seat, but it was not part of the discussion we were having. So that he can't claim I am hiding anything I will post his comments about the Judgment Seat below. Judge for yourself if it has anything to do with the Scriptures I quoted and was trying to discuss right from the beginning.

Wanted to tie your "relevance" question of last night in with my comments on the Judgment Seat. I should have thought of this sooner...

You've seen how the Word says we believers will be judged acc. to how we build on the foundation laid by Paul. I should have drawn attention to the other part of it, too:

"To the One Who is able to establish [sterizo, to confirm, steadfastly set, strengthen] you according to my gospel, even [i.e., "which is"] the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery, which has been kept silent in times eternal..." Romans 16:25.

If you'll notice, this passage (v. 25-27) is couched in the form of a prayer; this fits hand-in-glove with Paul's expressed desire in Ephesians 3:8-9. I point it out in the hope that you're starting to see the consistent thread that weaves in and out of much of what Paul wrote.

So to further answer your question of last night, we can (and should!) study and learn what the Gospels and non-Pauline writings have to offer. And there are MANY "trans-dispensational" principles that are applicable to us throughout the Bible. Only a fool would say otherwise. STILL, we can only be spiritually 'established' if we concentrate our feeding/study on, and then build upon, the revelation Christ gave to Paul alone.

We have a word in my church for any Christian who does not know what the Mystery is, and thus misses out on what it means for them. They belong to the BIGGEST denomination ON EARTH, The Church of the Ootwogi (Out Of The Will Of God, Ignorant). I was a card-carrying, tithe-paying member until a few years ago.

I did not see anything worth responding to in this, so I didn't and that is why I did not post it until now. So these two things, this message and the copied and pasted part of a book by someone else are the reasons he felt it was no use to respond to the Scriptures I quoted which I believe show that we must continue in the faith. Not only to the first Scriptures I quoted but also the ones I specifically quoted from Paul's writings.

I have not and will not now question his salvation. However, I will say that I am disappointed in some of the remarks he made towards me, some of which I have posted and some of which I decided not to post. I will close this by saying that if we place our faith in Jesus Christ and we follow Him and continue in the faith, then all of this is just meaningless bickering. If we don't continue in the faith, well then this becomes very important. You must judge for yourself using God's word.

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