Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Does Falling from Grace Means Losing Our Salvation?

Estranged and Fallen from What? Salvation or Service

By Abraham Israel

Apostle Paul said to the believer's of the Galatian Church, " 3 And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. 4 You have become estranged [i.e. removed from an accustomed place of association] from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace." (Gal 5:4). These Galatian believer's were influenced by false teachers who bewitched and made them to accept their theory that after people are saved by believing Jesus, still they must follow the Jewish laws and tradition to keep themselves saved. This false theory promoted the belief that they were saved by faith and should keep it safe by keeping the law. Paul refuted this lie strongly by saying the above thing.

Grace is a multifaceted word that covers various aspects of God with it. It is like a diamond that shines differently and uniquely at each and every possible view from which we see it. For example, we are saved by grace through faith and this supernatural knowledge of salvation that we hold is not because of our efforts but it is a gift that we have received from God (Eph 2:8). I know of many people who have confessed their sins and have opened their Bible as a routine to get an assurance to hold on. These people thought just because they have done these things God has given them salvation. But after they do these things and the flesh start to work strongly in them after some time of walking in the so called zealous walk of their salvation, then they begin to doubt their salvation because they see their behavior as something different to what they believe. In other words, they thought just because they confessed their sins to people and God, and received a word from the Bible to hold on to it as an assurance, they thought that they will never get that old temptation again because God will have removed it all when they were saved. Some honest people again begin to seek after another experience of salvation as they did before or they completely thrown away the whole thing as hoax to live life as they want and still some other people start to walk in the flesh and hypocritically act as through they are holier than others. Why does this happen all the time in the Church? It is because of not understanding the word Grace properly.

Grace Studied

Grace derives from the Greek, 'charis.' In secular Greek, 'charis' was related to 'chairo', 'to rejoice.' As far back as Greek poet Homer it denoted 'sweetness' or 'attractiveness.' It came to signify 'favor,' 'goodwill,' and 'lovingkindness' — especially as granted by a superior to an inferior.

Strongs Concordance says, "The Divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life." Vines Expository Dictionary of Greek words says, "Divine favor that practically affects the spiritual state of those who have experienced its exercise; empowering and equipping them for service."

In the New Testament, “grace” (156 times) takes on a special redemptive sense in which God makes available his favor on behalf of sinners, who actually do not deserve it. In short 'Grace' is "unmerited gift and favor of God" that is given to us in different ways through Jesus Christ.

Illustrated Bible Dictionary written by Easton and Matthew George categorizes the word "grace" in seven different ways and they are as follows, (1.) Of form or person (Prov. 1:9; 3:22; Ps. 45:2). (2.) Favor, kindness, friendship (Gen. 6:8; 18:3; 19:19; 2 Tim. 1:9). (3.) God's forgiving mercy (Rom. 11:6; Eph. 2:5). (4.) The gospel as distinguished from the law (John 1:17; Rom. 6:14; 1 Pet. 5:12). (5.) Gifts freely bestowed by God; as miracles, prophecy, tongues (Rom. 15:15; 1 Cor. 15:10; Eph. 3:8). (6.) Christian virtues (2 Cor. 8:7; 2 Pet. 3:18). (7.) The glory hereafter to be revealed (1 Pet. 1:13). We see in this above description, the same word grace expressed to point to various aspect of our Christian life. All grace have the same source which is Jesus Christ, but they have different attributes which supplies us with different truths of God.

Grace Scrutinized

So grace can be categorized and called as saving grace, healing grace, serving grace, empowering grace, overcoming grace, etc... Saving grace of Jesus has a unique Characteristic to it. It is freely given to the receivers and it stays the same until a believer enters heaven. In other words, Saving grace is a gift of God that is given to us freely and stays that way until we enter in to heaven. This is the reason Paul said, "8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." (Eph 2:8-10). In other words, once we are saved we stay that way until we enter heaven. God has not saved us by accident or because we chose to receive the gospel on a particular day, he saved us because of His mercies (Titus 3:5-6). We responded to God's call through His gospel and as a result of it we are sealed with the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of our future in heaven (Eph 1:13-14).

Not even in one place we see even the lightest hint that the apostles gave of God breaking the Holy Spirit's guarantee and taking Him out of our heart because of our bad response to his good gospel. If God has done that it would have shown that God has not foreseen our nature to fail Him again and again. Instead the writer to the Hebrew emphatically describes the Holy Spirit as saying, "15 But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before, 16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,” 17 then He adds,“Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” 18 Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin." (Heb 10:15-18). In other words, the writer to the Hebrew emphasizes that because Jesus has died in the place of the sinning believer, there can be no more account kept for the sins of the one who has believed in Him. And so the Holy Spirit Himself has given the pledge to write God's law in the hearts of the believer's and train the believers to walk in the ways of the Lord. So the believer did not save himself and seal himself because of stopping himself from sinning, so also he cannot unsave himself or unseal himself of the Holy Spirit because of continuing in sin. God does not give His salvation to any man just because that man has promised to stop sinning. He gave us His salvation because He felt merciful and showed His love to save us from hell to which all humanity is bound (Prov 10:12).

If we have received salvation based on a stipulation of completely stop doing sin, I believe no person on earth can keep his salvation for even a couple of hours or a day because no saved believer is completely free from sin until he dies physically. Also if God were to keep track of our sin after we are saved, man you will have a living hell on earth (Psa 130:3). Praise the Lord that he has already completely forgiven and wiped off all our trespasses that we will do in the future until our physical death (Col 2:13-14), so that we can freely choose to serve Him with gratitude for what He has done for us (Eph 2:10; Rom 6:13). Jesus did not come to make good people better, but he has come to raise dead people to life. Jesus did not save us to take us to heaven, though it is a byproduct of salvation, but He saved us so that we can lovingly with a pure conscience serve God through Him all our life and even for eternity. It is lack of understanding the grace of God that people say that saving grace can be lost. Then they tie one word 'repentance' to it and again out of context decide that saving grace can be lost.

Thomas Watson beautifully describes it saying, "When God calls a man, He does not repent of it. God does not, as many friends do, love one day, and hate another; or as princes, who make their subjects favorites, and afterwards throw them in to prison. This is the blessedness of a saint; his condition admits of no alteration. God's call is founded upon His decree, and His decree is immutable. Acts of grace cannot be reversed. God blots out His people's sins, but not their names." The Scripture agrees with this statement when it says, "29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30 For as you were once disobedient to God, yet have now obtained mercy ..." (Rom 11:29-30). When this above Scripture speaks about the time it calls as "once you were disobedient", it speaks about the days in which we did not receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior in our lives. But thank God we obeyed God's call and did receive Jesus in to our lives, as a result we received mercies of God's eternal salvation by which He has saved us (Titus 3:5-6; Heb 5:9).

Repenting to be saved does not mean to stop sinning, but to look to the Lord and agree that we are sinners and are in need of Jesus as our Savior until the end of our lives. But that does not mean a believer will sin intentionally or I am not encouraging anyone to sin willingly. The greatest repentance a man can ever do is to look to the Lord Jesus as his Lord and Savior. Actually a new nature comes to a believer when He first believed Jesus as his Lord and Savior (2 Cor 5:17). So he cannot sin intentionally without feeling miserable in his soul if he is really born again (1 John 3:9; John 16:8). When a believer sins, he will lose the fellowship with God through His presence, unless and until he looks back to the Lord and confesses that he has sinned against Him (1 John 1:7, 9). This is the fellowship aspect of a believers life. But when a unbeliever becomes born again with "eternal Salvation", there comes a eternal union with the Lord Jesus which is given as a gift and is sealed with the guarantee of the Holy Spirit (John 1:12-13; 14:23; 1 Cor 6:17; 2 Cor 1:21-22; 5:5; Heb 5:9). So saving grace cannot be repealed or withdrawn from God as we have become one body with Christ Jesus (1 Cor 6:19; 12:27). God cannot now look to us and say that we are rejected because of our sinful performance after our salvation, after He has already made it clear that we are accepted in the Beloved Jesus forever as He has become our substitute on behalf of us all who have believed Him (Eph 1:6). God does not say and change His word as we humans always do, and in fact He cannot lie because He is God (Mal 3:6; Num 23:19; Titus 1:2). As the Scripture says, "If we are faithless, He remains faithful [to His New Covenant]; He cannot deny Himself." (2 Tim 2:13) and so " 24 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, 25 To God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen." (Jude 24-25). Glory to God!

Fallen From Grace Explained

God's grace is not weak enough to keep even the vilest sinner out of the heaven. Richard Baxter awesomely describes this grace of God by saying, "In our first paradise in Eden there was a way to go out but no way to go in again. But as for the heavenly paradise, there is a way to go in, but not way to go out."

When Apostle Paul says "you have fallen from grace" (Gal 5:4), actually he is not speaking about salvation grace, but he is in fact speaking about the serving grace that each believer receives after salvation. You may immediately ask me, how do you say that it speaks about serving grace and not about salvation grace? I say because in the same epistle Paul first speaks about how he is living out the saved life by letting Jesus control His body and then he says "I do not set aside the grace of God..." to let the Galatian believers know that living in the righteousness of Jesus will only make their works as valid before God for a eternal reward that succeeds it (Gal 2:19-21). Paul never had doubt whether he will enter heaven or not because he knew that he was saved not by his own works, but hundred percentage completely by the finished work of Jesus on the Cross (Rom 5:10). He was ready to go to heaven any moment he would die and this is the reason he boldly said, "21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell." (Phil 1:21-22). In other words he was saying, 'Any time I die I will go to heaven to be with Christ. At the same time I want to spend my life on earth so that I might collect reward for eternity ahead by meeting the needs of the Church.' Paul the Apostle did not strive to get saved and enter in to heaven, because he knew that already he was perfectly saved by the Lord Jesus Himself. But he disciplined himself to run the race to win the crown that God had for Him and strove to finish the race that was set before him (1 Cor 9:27, 24-25; Rev 3:11). If only the believers in our generation would catch hold of this concept that Apostle Paul understood, they would passionately live their life for God and would turn the world upside-down for Jesus. Most believers get condemned by the enemy because of lack of being grounded in this eternal truth and therefore spend most of their precious time on earth to stay saved and lose all the eternal rewards that God has for them ahead. To try to stay saved when you already are by the grace of our Lord Jesus is like a tribal man living in a secluded forest in the Amazon forest trying to reinvent a wheel almost all the days that he lives on earth. Why try to reinvent a wheel when all you need to do is to connect with the people around you and ask them to show where one could buy the wheel? It is a waste of time and foolishness on the part of the believer to get saved when God has already saved them for eternity ahead.

To the same Galatian believer's Paul in Chapter 3 asks the inevitable question, "O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? 2 This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?" (Gal 3:1-3). Paul was saying, 'You were saved by believing the gospel of Jesus Christ, who has made you to believe that you need to again add works to your already received salvation to stay saved? Did you receive the Holy Spirit as a gift by hearing the word of God that promised this gift or you worked hard with your religious do's and don't to please God and finally receive Him because of it? If you have received the gift of the Spirit through faith in order to be a mighty witness for Jesus and collect eternal reward for it, why are you now trying again to save yourself through your own efforts when you are already saved perfectly through the life of Jesus?'.

Then when Paul the Apostle in the next verse of Gal 3:4 said, "Have you suffered so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain?", he drove the final nails to coffin of their religious life to be nothing but dead works which is of no value for eternity. We do not suffer to get saved, but Jesus sufferd for us and got us saved for eternity (Acts 17:3). In fact the Scripture says, "For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit." (1 Peter 3:18). But we suffer now to enter in to the kingdom benefits of God which is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit along with all the eternal benefits that will follow us (Rom 14:17; 2 Tim 3:12). We too like Jesus learn obedience to God and His perfect will by suffering (Heb 5:8). If we strive to become like Jesus in whose image God has pre-appointed for us to become (Rom 8:29), then He is our example to live in this earth (1 Peter 2:21). Jesus always knew where he had come from and where He was going, as a result of this divine knowledge he lived His maximum to fulfill the will of God for His life until the very end (John 13:3; 8:42; 16:28; 17:11). We as believers do not have to know where we came from, but we ought to know where we are going because only this divine knowledge can make us live as strangers and pilgrims on earth (1 Peter 2:11-12). Those who are in Christ always know that they are going to heaven (John 14:1-4), if the devil makes you to doubt your future in heaven by digging your past, just remind him of his future and he will leave you and run away (Rev 20:1-3, 7-10).

This proves beyond doubt that the Galatian believers having "fallen from grace" have not lost their salvation grace but the serving grace, having fallen from this serving grace they were caught in the web of dead works which made them lose their reward for eternity ahead which they could have easily held on by living the truth they have been taught. William Secker says it rightly by saying, "Though Christians be not kept altogether from falling, yet they are kept from falling altogether.". Praise the Lord! So take heart dear saints of God and give your maximum to the service of the Lord, so that you may live joyfully an abundant life on earth and a rich after life when you leave this earth. Surely the retirement benefits are out of this world for a true believer in Christ Jesus. Blessings......


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