THE END OF THE WORLD / LOSE YOUR SALVATION.
My grandmother grew up in the tiny community of Latch Texas. When the sad occasion came that she passed away, we buried her close to there where her family has traditionally been buried. I decided to do some exploring and go by some of the old landmarks that I had gone to as a child. Just outside of Latch I saw several different signs on both sides of the road proclaiming apocalyptic style warnings. One sign read something like. "WARNING! YOUR DRINKING WATER WILL BE TURNED INTO BLOOD!" I think this is a loose reference to Revelation 11:6 and/or 16:4. Anyway what I am getting to is why would someone put out signs such as these? The most probable answer is that they thought they were doing a good thing by giving us graphic depictions of the eventual Apocalypse, thus scaring us to our senses so we will get straight with God. These folks are not unique. They are a common breed across the Bible-Belt. Another phenomenon of this I have increasingly seen over the past few years is a bumper sticker that states, "In case of Rapture, this car will be unmanned." At the time of this writing the end of the current millennium is approaching and with this, there seems to be substantial increase of "end time" and prophetic hoopla. On one of the "Christian" television networks there are a few programs set up like news broadcasts that review the happenings of the past week in regard to scriptural prophesy. Personally, I find these shows somewhat humorous but many people get caught up in them. Should we be heeding what these people are warning us? Well, first, letís look further into some things all these people share. First and foremost of what these people share is a strong doctrine of "free will." I have addressed the issue of free will in earlier chapters so I will not try to revisit this issue too much. What I havenít said is that they can basically be put into two camps. The first camp is those who embrace total free will. That is, not only do you have the ability freely to accept or reject salvation, you also have the ability to reject your salvation once you are saved. The other camp while embracing free will in regards to salvation will also embrace some form of the security of the believer doctrine. "Once saved always saved" is a common catch phrase for this. It should make a lot of sense that most of the people caught up in the end times hoopla come from these backgrounds. If your salvation is freely your choice, then what better way is there of evangelizing people than to warn them of their impending doom? Likewise, if youíre already saved, what better way is there to keep your nose clean than to be reminded of your potential doom?
There are those who make themselves a quite a living capitalizing on this craze. There have been a multitude of books that have sold very well, thus insuring that even more books will be written. Opinions about the various doctrines vary widely and are the topics for many wild, passionate debates. Some terms you may hear are pre-millennialist, post-millenialist, a-millenianalist, pre-tribulation rapture, post-tribulation rapture, the number/mark of the beast, anti-christ etc. Diving into this mess is like diving into a tar pit. Once you are in there is little hope of making it out with your senses. Those who may be reading this in order to find out more information about many of the particular doctrines may be disappointed that I will barely touch on hardly any of them, for do so could take volumes and there are no easy answers. I will agree that we are at the end times but realize we have been in the end times for nearly two thousand years (Rom 13:12, I Cor 7:29, Phil 4:5, Heb 10:25, James 5:8-9, I John 2:18) and I lose no sleep fearing the upcoming disasters.
I whole-heartedly believe that Christ is coming again and I also believe that the end of the world as we know it is certain. I do not get caught up in the various end time prophetic movements because of several key Scriptures.
For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Matt 24:24
For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect. Mark 13:22
The key word here is "elect." What does it mean to be "elect?"
Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied. 1 Pet 1:2
Being "elect" means being saved. If you are saved it is because God wills it and it will happen. The end times will bring such temptation and strife that left to our own devises, we could not survive it with our lives much less our salvation. Lucky for us, we have God on our side and only through his power can/will we survive the upcoming disasters. Christ assures us that we (the elect) will not be fooled by the pretenders. This will be impossible. Also, when confronted about the insecurities about our future Christ taught:
Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. Matt 6:25-34
Pay particular attention to the last verse. We are in Godís hands and if he is for us, who can be against us?
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? Rom 8:28-31
Those who teach a doctrine of losing salvation may assert a few scriptures, so letís take a look at some of them.
Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; 1 Tim 4:1-2
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 2 Tim 4:3-4
If you can recall, back in my chapter on being born again I went through a discussion of perception. Many times scripture addresses our limited perceptions all the while not sacrificing godly truth. We must view these and other scriptures in light of total scripture lest we retain a limited view. The truth is, in the end times there will be those who appear to be truly in the Body of Christ but actually are not. These people in truth were never saved.
For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. II Th 2:7-12
Notice in verse 8 that St. Paul says that the wicked will be revealed. These are people who by appearance and association cannot be discerned from the elect. This is what Paul is speaking of in I & II Timothy. Please note that Paul goes on to say.
we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. II Th 2:13-14
The elect shall persevere!
Rom 8:38-39 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
As I stated above, those who preach a loss of salvation can wield quite a weapon of fear over those they pastor. In many cases it is a disabling doctrine. People are constantly being saved and resaved over and over again. How can you grow in Christ and wean yourself from the milk and move on to the meat if your salvation is constantly in peril? I recall one young lady telling me after she had a few drinks that she was afraid to go home because she might get in an accident and die. Her pastor had told her if she died while she had been drinking then she would go to hell because a drunkard could not enter the realm of Heaven. This may effect a right result but for the wrong reason. Was she ever in peril? Not if she was truly saved. What Paul is speaking of in I Corinthians 6:9 are those who put the things of the world before God in their regular lives. This young lady maybe drank 2-3 times a year. Please refer to my chapter on alcohol if you want to dig deeper. If one takes a loss of salvation doctrine to its logical end, the typical Christian would fall in and out of salvation daily. This is similar to what plagued the mediaeval Church and necessitated the Reformation in the first place. One of the more humorous assertions I have read on this subject is a claim that it was Satan that was the first to preach the security of believerís doctrine in the Garden of Eden. Nice twist but a twist all the same.
And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. Gen 3:4-5
Satan is the Great deceiver. The best deceits are those that utilize the truth. Satan was correct when he told Eve that she would not die. But the death that Adam and Eve were warned about was eventual death, not immediate death, even though one could rightly say at that time they died. Likewise we should not reject truth just because it has been utilized in some deceit. Those who preach loss of salvation are somewhat correct to say that Christians who knowingly and willingly commit grave sins put themselves in great peril. A true Christian does not solely desire the corruption of Satan over the truth of God. This does not mean he has the ability to remain free from corruption or if he falls that he is in danger of losing his salvation. As a saved person I have at least two natures. They are my spiritual nature and my fleshly nature. They are in constant battle. There are times that I succumb to the desires of the flesh. Possibly that cheeseburger I had for lunch. When I fall, my spiritual nature can give me the ability to see my errors and even more importantly convict me of my errors so I eventually desire that which is good and repent. This may take a second, it may possibly take years. The truth is that the Spirit is stronger than the flesh and it will eventually prevail.
As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. John 17:2
For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. I Jn 5:4
If not for the Spirit at work in my life, I would easily succumb to the desires of the flesh. To say that I can reject the Spirit once it dwells within me is in effect giving me power over God. Most of the time that I do sin it is not because of a clear and conscious choice. I donít wake up in the morning and go "Hmmm, Good or evil, which one shall it be?" Most of the sin I commit in my life is some form of corrupted good. Like the Cheeseburger I mentioned above. I desire the Cheeseburger because to me it will taste good. Thus bringing me pleasure. Pleasure within itself is a good thing. Likewise there is some form of corrupted sense of nutrition that it may give me. All the while ignoring the fat and salt I ingested. I have known not a few Christians who are so fearful of pleasure because of its association with sin that they have little of it in their lives. Much evil is disguised as good. There have been many, many times were while I thought I was doing good, I was actually rendering evil. The fall of man brought on the knowledge of good and evil. Mere knowledge of good does not guarantee that I will desire that which is good or that I will have the ability to have victory over evil. Only God in my life can insure this.
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Eph 2:8-10
There are a multitude of scriptures that are used to try to prove a doctrine of salvation loss. There are several very good books that address these issues point by point, written by more able men than myself. It is not my intent in this book to tread on well-trodden ground so I will wrap up this topic shortly. To me both the end times craze and the loss of salvation doctrine do more to divert the Christian and drain his energy. To me the loss of salvation doctrine is false and should be avoided. If you are interested in end time prophesy please approach it with caution. Make sure you are fully founded in the essentials because this is clearly not an essential to our or to others salvation.