Pastor David B. Curtis


Media #953 MP3 Audio File Video File

A Biblical Soteriology:

An Introduction to 1 John - Pt 2

Delivered 03/31/19

Last week we looked at an introduction to the book of 1 John and we saw that this letter is a little unusual in that it doesn't contain the name of its writer, neither is there any reference to who the first recipients of this Epistle were, or where they lived. There is no greeting or other introduction, no health wish or thanksgiving, and no final greetings. This little Epistle is neither a personal letter, nor a letter written to one church.

Now even though we don't know who the first recipients of this Epistle were, or where they lived, we do know something very important about them, they were believers.

I write to you, little children, because the sins have been forgiven you through his name; 1 John 2:12 YLT

This is a description of a Christian, only believers have had their sins forgiven. In chapter 3 in the first couple of verses they are called "children of God" and "God's children". And chapter 5 says:

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life. 1 John 5:13 ESV

So, the intended audience of this epistle is believers, that is very important. But, that understanding will mean different things to different people depending on their soteriology. Soteriology comes from two Greek terms: soter, meaning: "savior," and logos, meaning: "word, reason, or principle." Soteriology is the study of the doctrine of salvation. Soteriology discusses how Christ's death secures the salvation of those who believe. It helps us to understand the doctrines of redemption, justification, sanctification, propitiation, and the substitutionary atonement.

What I would like to do this morning is share with you what I see as biblical Soteriology. Within the professing church, there are two main views of soteriology: Arminian and Calvinist. An Arminian is someone who thinks that man is responsible in the decision of salvation. They believe that the individual makes the choice as to whether to be saved or not, and they believe that a person can lose their salvation.

On the other hand, a Calvinist is someone who believes that salvation is of the Lord. They believe that it is God who chooses who will be saved. They also believe that a person cannot lose their salvation. Within evangelical churches, there is ongoing debate on the issue of salvation. Is it by a choice of man's free will or of God's sovereign choice?

Within these two views are two other views that can be called Lordship Salvation and the Free Grace position. I believe that most Calvinists and Arminians hold to the Lordship view, but among Calvinists and Arminians are also those who hold to a Free Grace position.

Which of these views (if any) does the Bible teach? Which of these theological positions is a biblical Soteriology? We, as believers, need to hold a theological position, we need a framework or grid to filter things through. And this grid or framework must be formed from a diligent study of the Bible. All theology must come from exegesis, out of the text of the Bible. When we take our theology and force it on a text, that is called eisegesis. We must allow the Bible to speak and then shape our theology from the Scripture. If you find that the Scriptures go against your theology, change your theology.

Let's examine these views in light of Scripture.

The Arminian view: The "Five Points of Calvinism" are some thing that most people are aware of, but what most don't know is that they were simply the Calvinistic answer to a five point manifest put out by certain Belgic semi-Pelagins in the early seventeenth century. The "Arminian Manifesto," states this as its fifth point: "It rests with believers to keep themselves in a state of grace by keeping up their faith; those who fail here fall away and are lost."

As Christians, do we all live on the brink of damnation? Is our salvation conditional on our ability to maintain it? Talk about depression! I mean, people get depressed for a lot of things far less significant than that. I could understand depression, and I could understand taking massive amounts of Prozac if you believe you can lose your salvation. Does the Bible teach that believers can lose their salvation? No! And since it doesn't, it should be obvious that Arminian theology is bad theology.

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day." John 6:37-40 ESV

In this context "coming to Christ" and "believing in Christ" are synonyms. So, who comes to/believes in Yeshua? "All that the Father gives to Yeshua"—the ability to believe on Yeshua requires divine enablement. It is only those whom "the Father" enables to believe that "come to" Yeshua in faith. These are "all" the people whom "the Father gives" to the Son as gifts.

The word "gives" is a word of destiny. It's divine sovereign election. This is what theologians call "irresistible grace." This does not mean that God drags people to Christ kicking and screaming against their will. It means that God gives them a new heart, and they respond to the Gospel.

"And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me"—If one individual that the Father gave to the Son failed to reach heaven, it would be a disgrace for the Son, since it would indicate His inability or unwillingness to fulfill the Father's will. If you are a believer, you are secure, you can never lose your salvation.

It is God's sovereign will that those whom He gives to Yeshua will believe, will have eternal life and will be resurrected on the last day.

Hendrickson says: "Scripture teaches a counsel that cannot be changed, a calling that cannot be resolved, an inheritance that cannot be defiled, a foundation that cannot be shaken, a seal that cannot be broken, and a life that cannot perish. This is the Father's will, who hath sent me, that of all that He hath given me I should lose nothing but should raise it up again at the last day."

Christ will lose none of those that the Father has given Him. They are secure in Christ. The only kind of life that Christ gives is everlasting!

The argument that we find in Romans 5:8-10 is the most powerful argument, with respect to assurance of our salvation, that can be found anywhere in the whole of Scripture:

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. Romans 5:8-10 ESV

Verse 9 says, "much more than"; this is an a fortiori argument, which is an argument from the lesser to the greater. If God has done the greater (verse 8), surely, He will do the lesser (verse 9). Verse 10 also says, "much more"; now that we are reconciled, we shall be saved through sharing in His life. We are in Christ. We are accounted perfectly righteous, having paid the debt of sin and having fulfilled the law by our union with Yeshua who is the Christ.

If God sent His son to die for us while we were enemies, ungodly, sinners, how much more will He do for us now that we are His children and righteous? Because we share His life, we are eternally saved, eternally secure.

And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. Romans 8:30 ESV

The chain of salvation is unbroken from predestination to glorification, nobody gets lost. Every person that he predestined He will glorify.

The Arminian view can't be right then; there is no possibility of a believer losing their salvation.

The other main view is Calvinism, which teaches that salvation is accomplished by the almighty power of the Triune God. The Father chose a people, the Son died for them, the Holy Spirit makes Christ's death effective by bringing the elect to faith. The entire process (election, redemption, regeneration) is the work of God and is by grace alone. Thus God, not man, determines who will be the recipients of the gift of salvation.

Calvin says, "We shall never be clearly persuaded, as we ought to be, that our salvation flows from the wellspring of God's free mercy until we come to know His eternal election, which illumines God's grace by this contrast: That He does not indiscriminately adopt all into the hope of salvation, but gives to some what He denies to others."

And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, "It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, "'I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.'" And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. Acts 13:46-48 ESV

Who is it that believed? Those who God had appointed to eternal life. Now notice carefully what the inspired text says, "As many as were appointed to eternal life believed"—he could have just said, "And many believed" as he has so many times in this book, but he is careful to tell us that "those appointed to eternal life believed." Luke uses predestination terminology to point out here, as elsewhere, that this faith is, above all, God's work. Salvation is of the Lord.

Spurgeon said, "If anyone should ask me what I mean by a Calvinist, I should reply, 'He is one who says, Salvation is of the Lord.' I cannot find in Scripture any other doctrine than this. It is the essence of the Bible."

It is my opinion that Calvinism is the correct soteriology. I'm pretty sure that most of you are with me on that. But within a Calvinistic soteriology, there are two views that are very important and very different. We want to spend our time this morning looking at these two views.

The Lordship view: This is probably the most widely accepted of the views among reformed thinkers. Those who hold to Lordship theology believe that if a person is truly a Christian, they will always live a righteous obedient life. Without this practical righteousness, there is no reason for a person to think that they are a Christian.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones, in his commentary on the "Sermon on the Mount," says this, "Nothing is more dangerous than to rely only upon a correct belief and a fervent spirit, and to assume that, as long as you believe the right things and are zealous and keen and active concerning them, you are therefore of necessity a Christian."

Do you see what he is saying? Being a Christian is more than just believing the right things, you must have obedience. He is not alone in this view.

According to Lordship Salvation, saving faith includes submission and obedience. Richard Belcher says, "True saving faith includes in it a submission to the Lordship of Christ." Another Lordship proponent says, "Saving faith is trust in Christ Himself. It is a commitment of self in submission to all of Christ that is revealed." John MacArthur says, "Saving faith, then, is the whole of my being embracing all of Christ. Faith cannot be divorced from commitment." He also says, "The true test of faith is this, does it produce obedience? If not, it is not saving faith." Bailey Smith asserts, "Saving faith is not mere intellectual assent, but it involves an act of submission on our part."

So those who hold to the Lordship view would say that true Christians live a life characterized by obedience to all that the Father has commanded.

Please think about this: Yeshua is the only person who ever lived in complete obedience to the Father. All other men have sinned. The only reason that any person can get into heaven is because Yeshua's obedience is imputed to their account by faith:

Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous. Romans 5:18-19 ESV

Romans 5:12-21 is a comparison of two men—Adam and Christ. The comparison is very simple; there are two men, who each performed a single act that brought forth a single result, and the result is experienced by every member in their respective races. The emphasis in this section is on how one man's act affects all he represents.

The word "made" is not causative, but declarative. Those in Adam were declared sinners. It is imperative that we understand this: "By one man's disobedience many were regarded as sinners." He doesn't say, "made sinful," but "made sinners." The whole human race has been constituted legally as sinners. That is our judicial standing before God. And it is based entirely and solely on Adam's one act of disobedience.

That is one side, but thank God there is another side to the parallel—"so by." By the righteous act of One Man, the Lord Yeshua the Christ, the many are made righteous. Our salvation is based entirely on Him, and from Him, and in Him. As my being a sinner came entirely from Adam, all my righteousness comes entirely from the Lord Yeshua the Christ.

Yeshua was regarded and treated as a sinner that we might be regarded and treated as righteous in the sight of God. As a believer, I am righteous, and I will always be righteous because I am in Christ, and Christ never changes, so neither will I. Your salvation and mine depends only, and entirely, and exclusively upon the obedience of Christ.

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV

Positionally, in my standing before God, I am completely righteous and totally obedient, because I am in Christ! Christ's obedience and righteousness has been imputed to my account. That is my position or standing. But when men talk about obedience being necessary to enter heaven, they are referring to practical obedience, their performance.

John MacArthur writes, "Hell is undoubtedly full of people who did not actively oppose Jesus Christ but simply drifted into damnation by neglecting to respond to the Gospel. Such people are in view in Hebrews 2:1-4. They are aware of the good news of salvation provided by Jesus Christ, but aren't willing to commit their lives to Him" (The Superiority Of Christ, p. 80).

Why does he say these people aren't believers? What do they lack? Commitment! John MacArthur gives this story to illustrate his point:

I will never forget a particular lady who came into my office and informed me that she was a prostitute. She said, "I need help; I'm desperate." So I presented the claims of Christ to her. Then I said, "Would you like to invite Jesus Christ into your life?" She said, "Yes, and she prayed." I said, "Now, I want you to do something. Do you have your book with all your contacts?" she said she did. I said, "Let's light a match to it and burn it." she looked at me and said, "What do you mean?" I said, "If you want to live for Jesus Christ, and you've truly accepted His forgiveness and met Him as your Savior, then you need to prove it." She said to me, "That book is worth a lot of money. I don't want to burn it." She put it back in her purse and looked me right in the eye and said, "I guess I don't really want Jesus, do I?" Then she left.

When it came down to counting the cost, she wasn't ready. I don't know what the outcome of that poor woman has been. I do know that she knew the facts and believed them, but she was not willing to make the sacrifice (The Superiority Of Christ p. 84)

Does a person need to commit his life, count the cost and sacrifice to be saved?

The Spirit and the Bride say, "Come." And let the one who hears say, "Come." And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. Revelation 22:17 ESV

Does that sound like a call to commitment, or sacrifice to you? If commitment or sacrifice is involved, how much is needed? How obedient do we have to be? How much do we have to sacrifice? Is 80% good enough? Is it 90%? Or maybe 95% obedience? We know that it's not 100% obedience, because nobody does that, nobody.

How much obedience is enough? Nobody can answer that question, which means we never know if we are doing enough, which means we never know if we are going to make it to heaven if getting to heaven is based upon our obedience.

If complete obedience to the will of God is necessary, then I think we are all in trouble. Notice what Paul said:

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, Ephesians 5:25 ESV

How many of you husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church? How many of you even come close to doing this? Okay, let's try something a little easier:

give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Yeshua for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV

What is God's will here? It is that we be thankful "in everything"! Are you? Will a person who is not thankful in everything perish? They are not doing the will of God! Do you see how complicated it gets when you require obedience as a necessary element of salvation? We usually make the obedience something superficial that we can do.

The Lordship view has become very wide spread in the church today, but is it biblical? At issue here are three things: (A) The Nature of faith; (B) The relationship between faith and assurance; (C) The effect of salvation. In other words, the debate centers around three critical questions: What must a person do to be saved? What must a person do to know he is saved? How will salvation show itself in one's life?

A. The Nature of Faith, or What must a person do to be saved? What exactly is saving faith? Saving faith is: Understanding and assent to the propositions of the Gospel. It is not some special kind of faith in the sense that its quality or essence is different than other kinds of faith. There are not different kinds of faith, there are just different objects of faith.

We all know what faith is, for example: If I said, "He told me the check is in the mail, and I believed him." Are you going to ask me if I believed with my head or my heart? Of course not! You understand what I mean when I say that I believed him. But when it comes to Christianity, we look for some other understanding of faith.

In his book Faith and Saving Faith, Gordon H. Clark writes, "One may believe that two and two is four and this is arithmetic; one may also believe that asparagus belongs to the lily family, and this is botany. Botany is not mathematics, of course; but the psychology or linguistics of believe is identical in all cases. Christ's promises of salvation are vastly different from the propositions of botany; but believing is always thinking that a proposition is true." (Faith and Saving Faith, Gordon H. Clark, page 106)

The last paragraph of Clark's book states, "Faith, by definition, is assent to understood propositions. Not all cases of assent, even assent to biblical propositions, are saving faith; but all saving faith is assent to one or more biblical propositions." [Faith and Saving Faith, Gordon H. Clark, page 118]

Faith is faith whether it be in Christianity or mathematics. Saving faith is taking God at His Word. It is believing what God has said:

No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. Romans 4:20-21 ESV

God made Abraham a promise, and Abraham believed Him that is faith. He believed that God would do what he said he would.

If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. 1 John 5:9-10 ESV

Verse 9 is saying that we accept human testimony, how much more can we accept God's testimony. It's not that the faith that receives it is greater, but the testimony is greater, it's more reliable. If I believe God's testimony about His son, I receive God's righteousness and have everlasting life.

Please understand this; I'm not saying that everyone who says they are a Christian is one. It seems like everybody in this country thinks they're a Christian. I was talking to a man who told me that he was a Christian. I asked him, "If you were to die right now and stand before God and He asked you 'Why should I let you into heaven' what would you tell Him. He said, "I'm not sure, I haven't been to confession lately." This man, though he said he was a Christian, had no clue of what the Bible taught about salvation. I proceeded to share the gospel with him. He was very interested in what I had to share.

The Lordship view has redefined saving faith, so it's more than just taking God at His word. To them, saving faith involves surrender, commitment, submission, repentance, and sacrifice. These additions are both linguistically invalid and biblically invalid. Faith is simply believing:

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. John 3:36 ESV

The word translated "whoever does not obey" here in the ESV and "he that believeth not" in the KJV and the NKJV is the verb apeitheo. The leading Greek Lexicon of the New Testament, by Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich, and Danker, makes a very insightful comment about apeitheo, which sheds light on John 3:36: "Since in the view of the early Christians, the supreme disobedience was a refusal to believe their gospel, apeitheo may be restricted in some passages to the meaning disbelieve, be an unbeliever (BAGD, p.82)."

A person who trusts in Christ alone, obeys completely the will of the Father to believe in Yeshua alone for eternal salvation.

Augustine, who lived from A.D. 354-430 wrote, "Faith is nothing else than to think with assent." John Calvin wrote, "For as regards justification, faith is something merely passive, bringing nothing of ours to the recovering of God's favor but receiving from Christ what we lack."

Now Yeshua did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Yeshua is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. John 20:30-31 ESV

"Yeshua is the Christ"—it is not the mere verbalization of this phrase that saves you. We must believe that Yeshua is the Christ, and before we can believe it, we must understand what it means. We must believe that Yeshua is the Christ in the Johanian sense of the term. We must understand Christ as John does. How does John understand Christ?

Yeshua said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?" She said to him, "Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world." John 11:25-27 ESV

In verse 27 Mary says that she believes the very thing that the Gospel of John was written to bring her to believe. In verse 26 Yeshua asks, "Do you believe this?" What is this? It is the statement about Yeshua Himself that He gives in verse 25. He tells her that He is the resurrection and life. But that's not all He asks her to believe, Yeshua is saying, "I guarantee resurrection and life to everyone who believes in Me." To believe that Yeshua is the Christ is in essence to believe that He is the guarantor of eternal life to everyone who believes. So, if I can make people understand what it means to believe that Yeshua is the Christ, they'll either believe it or they won't. The Lordship view presents faith as if it were: "I have all the facts, and I believe them, but now I must do something with them, as though there's an extra step, an act of the will, surrender, commitment, or sacrifice. That is not biblical!

And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, Romans 4:5 ESV

Saving faith is accepting the testimony of God. Do you believe that Yeshua is the Christ? If you do, then on the testimony of Scripture, you are saved, you possess everlasting life.

Benjamin Warfield, the Presbyterian who probably would not have put himself in my camp, said, "The saving power resides exclusively, not in the act of faith, or the attitude of faith, or the nature of faith, but in the object of faith."

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, Ephesians 2:8 ESV

The truth is, technically, we're not saved by faith but through faith. Faith is the instrumental means; grace is the efficient means of our salvation. We're saved by Yeshua. We're saved by His grace. We're saved through faith. You would understand what I meant if I said to you, "I put the fire out with the hose." Now hoses don't put out fires. But hoses are the channels for water that puts the fire out. The hose is the instrumental means; the water is the efficient means. Faith is the instrumental means by which we are able to access our salvation through Yeshua.

John Robbins, in the foreword of Gordon Clarks' book, Faith and Saving Faith, writes, "Belief of the truth, nothing more and nothing less, is what separates the saved from the damned. Those who maintain that there is something more than belief, are, quite literally, beyond belief."

Let me give you a test to see if you understand this.

Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God. John 12:42-43 ESV

Were these individuals saved? Were they Christians? The Lordship view would say, "No", because they did not confess Him. But the Scripture says, "They believed in Him." It doesn't say that they thought they believed in Him or pretended to believe in Him but that they "believed in Him." They did what this Gospel was intended to make them do, believe.

Mark A. Copeland, the author of the Executable Outlines, says, "There are some who teach that as long as one believes in Jesus, they will be saved. That salvation is by 'faith only.' But there is such a thing as 'an unsaved believer.' There were some who believed in Jesus, but were not saved John 12:42-43. Let no one think that just because they 'believe' in Jesus, they have a free ticket into heaven!"

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. John 5:24 ESV

Lordship theology causes people to doubt the testimony of Scripture. Faith is believing, and believing alone makes you a Christian:

But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Yeshua the Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles performed, he was amazed. Acts 8:12-13 ESV

The words "believe and believed" are used 37 times in Acts, and they clearly refer to those who have trusted Christ and are saved:

To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name." Acts 10:43 ESV
and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. Acts 13:39 ESV

The Word of God says that Simon believed; to say that he didn't is to question inspiration. Notice what the text in Acts goes on to say:

Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money, saying, "Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit." But Peter said to him, "May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity." Acts 8:18-23 ESV

Because of Simon's actions, many say that he was not a Christian, but the Bible says, "He believed." The Lordship view says: He can't be saved because there's no commitment, no sacrifice, no good works. But the Scripture says, "He believed." Now, who are you going to believe The Bible or men?

B. The relationship between faith and assurance, or What must a person do to know he is saved?

The Lordship view teaches that assurance comes from obedience, from holy living, from your works. Martin Luther said, "For certainty does not come to me from any kind of reflection on myself and on my state. On the contrary it comes solely through hearing the word, solely because I cling to the word and its promises."

John Calvin wrote, "From one's work conscience feels more fear and consternation than assurance" [Institutes of the Christian Religion, book 3, 14,20]. John Calvin taught that assurance was of the essence of faith.

If good works are the basis of assurance, then the believer's eyes are distracted from the sufficiency of Christ and His work to meet his eternal need. His eyes are focused on himself. Our assurance is to be based upon God's Word; His promise that He would give eternal life to all who believe on His Son. Assurance does not come from our works.

C. The effect of salvation, or How will salvation show itself in one's life? The Lordship view teaches that Christians can't apostatize (fall away from God); they must and will produce fruit. If heaven can't be obtained apart from obedience to God, then, logically, that obedience is a condition for getting there.

One writer who holds the Lordship view says: "The life of God in man will always produce a righteous pattern, and if you have an unrighteous pattern in your life, you are fighting against the very nature God has created in you. It's like holding your breath, it's a lot harder than breathing."

Is unrighteousness like holding your breath? Or is it more like breathing? Living a holy life is not easy, it takes constant diligence. We must live in constant dependence on God.

The Lordship view teaches that in order to be a Christian, you must do more than believe the gospel. I see this as adding to the gospel; it is totally unbiblical!

Free Grace view: This view teaches that a person becomes a Christian when they understand and believe the gospel of Yeshua the Christ. At that moment they are placed into the body of Christ, given Christ's righteousness, indwelt by God, and are as sure of heaven as if they were already there. They are "in Christ."

Because God permanently indwells, His power is constantly available to the believer. That power will not operate in the Christian's life, however, unless he personally appropriates it by faith. Moment by moment the believer must trust God rather than himself to give him power for victory in daily life.

God calls all believers to be disciples, but many will not pay the price. Salvation is a free gift of God's grace, but discipleship is costly. Salvation is our birth in the Christian life, and discipleship is our education and maturity in the Christian life. Eternal life is a gift of grace to all who believe; but notice what Luke says about discipleship:

So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:33 ESV

Discipleship is a call to forsake all and follow Christ. Can this be talking about the same thing as John in John 3:16?

Just because we are saved, this does not mean we can live as we please and do as we wish. Grace does not give us a license to sin or constitute an excuse for carelessness. Remember, who the Lord loves, He chastens. To live in sin will cost us temporally. Sin, any sin, all sin, will cost us in this life:

Then his master summoned him and said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?' And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart." Matthew 18:32-35 ESV

Here we see one who has been forgiven (a believer) being turned over to the torturers because of sin in his life. Verse 35 tells us that God will do the same to us if we live in sin.

What if I'm wrong? What if the Free Grace view is not correct? Let's think about this Calvinists. If I'm wrong, what damage could this view possibly cause? If the Free Grace view is wrong, it could cause people to think that they are saved when they're really not. It could be giving false hope to unbelievers. So what? Do you believe in election? Will the elect of God ever be lost? No! Will the reprobate ever be saved? No! So, in my opinion, the worst that the Free Grace view will do is give false hope to the reprobate.

If the Lordship teaching is wrong, what harm can it do? It can cause a believer to think that they are not redeemed because of sin in their life. This view can bring the elect under guilt and condemnation. It can cause a believer to give up on Christianity by making them doubt that they really are saved. Notice what Yeshua said about those who harm His flock:

but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Matthew 18:6 ESV

The Lordship view can hurt the church of God by causing Christians to live in guilt and doubt. But the worse that the Free Grace view does is give the reprobate false hope. As I see it, only the Lordship view is harmful to the church. We all must admit that neither of these views can change the destiny of the elect. Selah!

Continue the Series

Berean Bible Church provides this material free of charge for the edification of the Body of Christ. You can help further this work by your prayer and by contributing online or by mailing to:

Berean Bible Church
1000 Chattanooga Street
Chesapeake, VA 23322