Wednesday, 29 April 2015

MAKING ALTAR CALLS: IS IT JUSTIFIED?

When Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount or when He fed the multitudes, was there any indication in the Bible that He invited those who were believed in His message to come forward? No. 

None who were serious in following Him were told to step forward to distinguish themselves from the rest. Nevertheless, He did call the twelve disciples individually to join His cause to change the world.

                                                                       
The practice of making altar calls is part of church culture, whether charismatic or non-charismatic. As there is a need to identify positive respondents for the purposes of follow-up (salvation cases) and training (rededication cases), there is apparently little harm in making altar calls.

The disciples were personally challenged by Jesus to leave their trade and follow Him. Peter preached a powerful message at Pentecost, resulting in thousands streaming into God’s kingdom. And we are told that we must not be ashamed of Jesus, implying that we must publicly declare our faith and allegiance to Him. Even so, we cannot find an unequivocal argument for making altar calls. In fact, the Bible does not make a clear and convincing case for or against it.

While a speaker may be justified in making an altar call, he should not apply undue pressure to elicit a response. He should not employ gimmicks like stirring music or clever oratorical skills to push people to come forward. High pressure techniques akin to those used by sales personnel to close deals must be discouraged. If he does that, it reflects on his ego and dependence on natural ability. If he is really anointed, the Holy Spirit will definitely use his message to convict the audience.


                                                                       
The speaker must be fully cognizant of his high calling, that he has been entrusted with the noble task of delivering the oracles of God and, for this reason, he cannot depend on his natural ability but on the power of the Holy Spirit (Ezra 7:10, 1 Peter 4:11, 1 Corinthians 2:1-5). Desperately trying to push for greater numbers to fulfill a false “spiritual KPI” is a work of the flesh.

Anyway, is getting great numbers to respond the ultimate test of success when it comes to delivering a message? The topic may be highly challenging (based on "hard sayings") or the audience may be hard-hearted and so the response may be muted. In these instances, the poor response cannot be attributed to the messenger's lack of oomph. If numbers is the name of the game, then the weeping prophet Jeremiah would be deemed the greatest failure.

                                                                       
In summary, while there are no hard and fast rules concerning the making of altar calls, it may be advisable for the speaker to pose himself this question: "Am I doing this fully conscious of the guidance of the Holy Spirit or am I merely trying to play the numbers game in order to meet performance targets?"

RELATED POST

DANGER OF PERFORMANCE CULTURE

Peak performance and statistics have always been the name of the game in business and corporate circles. It is the method by which we monitor success. Sadly, this kind of thinking has also been creeping into church circles.


References

For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel (Ezra 7:10).

If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever (1 Peter 4:11).

And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).


Monday, 27 April 2015

SPIRITUAL BACKLASH

Believers who earnestly desire to be God’s instruments must be prepared for satan’s reprisals.

Recently, a lady in church shared her story of spiritual warfare which sent shivers down my spine. While serving God in Cambodia as an English teacher, she stayed in a notorious part of the town where crime was prevalent. In fact, the place she called home used to be a brothel. Surrounded by barb wire, her abode was like a self-imposed prison. On the first anniversary of her work in that location, she became accustomed to hearing gun shots at night.

One day, because there were three murders over the past year, she felt led by the Holy Spirit to pray against the forces of darkness—that the streets would be safer.

So at five in the morning, she awoke and went to the balcony on the first floor of the home to intercede for the city and its people.  To her horror as she was about to sit down to wage spiritual warfare, she found a big dead rat lying on her rattan chair. Because of her phobia for rats, she screamed and returned to her room shivering in fear. After what seemed a long awaited dawn, she asked a brother to help her dispose the carcass. Unfazed, she tried the next morning to pray but this time she was shaken to find another dead rat at the door entrance. This almost put paid to her desire for early morning prayer. Being determined, however, she stood her ground. The next episode was even more unnerving. On her third attempt, as she was splashing cold water on her face to refresh herself before prayer, she felt a rat crawling around and over her feet. At this stage, she felt that such prayer warfare ministry was probably not her cup of tea.


                                                                          
Over the next few months, refusing to be intimidated by satan, she persevered in intercession and prayed for her personal sanctification. Then she waited on the Lord for a revelation. One day, as she was  praying and confessing her sins, she sensed the waft of a strange and sweet fragrance. By then she realised a spiritual breakthrough had come. Henceforth, she was able to intercede for others.


                                                                                 

 

Spiritual backlash when we attempt to serve God and extend His kingdom is a grim reality. But believers must be bold and persevere in spiritual warfare, not easily intimidated by satan’s devices.


                                                                              
  • The righteous are bold like lions (Proverbs 28:1).
  • For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). 
  • Spiritual warfare is real but in a highly technological world, we tend to dismiss or downplay its significance. I have come across some conservative believers who call upon their more charismatic friends to do deliverance ministry. But I think this should not be the case. We should embrace the full gospel and know our position in Christ—that we are more than conquerors and greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world. Satan is already a defeated foe and we just need to enforce the victory that is already ours (1 John 4:4, Colossians 2:15, James 4:7)

 References


You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4).

He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him (Colossians 2:15).

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7).

Put on Armour of God

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.

(Ephesians 6: 10-18)

Victory through Prevailing Intercessory Prayer

Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim. So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose for us men, and go out and fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” So Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought with Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses' hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword.

(Exodus 17: 8-13)

WHY SOME BELIEVERS EXPERIENCE MORE SPIRITUAL WARFARE THAN OTHERS
“When someone on earth wants to bring the influence of the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven, Satan erupts with fear and anger against them.”





















Thursday, 23 April 2015

CHOOSING WISELY

Free will is God’s gracious gift to man. We can choose either to obey Him or reject His ways. However, having made our choice, we cannot choose the consequences of our decision.



At conversion, the believer becomes a new creation. His ‘spirit man’ becomes new. His mind has to be progressively renewed. His body wastes away and will only become brand new at the rapture. What about his will—the ability to choose between right and wrong?

Sometimes we think that, as a result of the new birth, every part of our lives becomes brand new.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17).

While it is true that we have died to our old self and now we have new goals, values, worldview and lifestyle, we still retain the privilege of exercising our free will. In other words, our will remains neutral after conversion.

And we can still fall into sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:8-9).

The ability to choose is God’s precious and gracious gift to us. Even after we have become believers, we can choose between pleasing self or God. We can choose between good and evil.

Freedom of choice is something that remains with us even after we have become believers. God does not turn us into robots or automatons.

From the very beginning in the Garden of Eden, the privilege of volition (free will) has always been with man. Adam and Eve sinned because they chose to listen to the voice of satan who deceived them into thinking that they “will not die” but will “be like God” if they took the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3:4-5).

Isn’t it clear throughout the Bible that God grants man the privilege of free will?
  • “Choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
         (Joshua 24:15)
  • And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.”
         (1 Kings 18:21)
  • Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
        (Ephesians 4:22-24)
  • Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,
         (Colossians 3: 5, 12)

When tempted, we can either take the path of least resistance or resist evil. Adam was attracted by the forbidden fruit and fell because he took the easy path. However, the last Adam (Christ), through prayer, resisted the temptation of putting His own comfort above God’s will. He chose the excruciating death on the cross for our sins.

A word of caution, directed especially to youths. When we are young, we have lots of energy. We can make many varied choices in life. We can make good or bad moral choices. We can mix with the right or wrong crowd. We can go to the places which build your character or to sleazy joints. Yes, we have to make sure that we choose well.

Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes. But know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment.
(Ecclesiastes 11:9)

I am not implying at all that we can stay strong spiritually by sheer will power. The spirit indeed is willing but the flesh is weak. We need to watch and pray that we may not enter into temptation (Matthew 26:41). In fact, we need the power of the Holy Spirit to resist temptation.

The book of Proverbs repeatedly warns against sexual promiscuity. It offers fatherly advice to men to resist the enticement of the wayward woman lest they suffer loss both in this world and the world to come. They are to run away from the scene of temptation; to linger on, trying to resist temptation, would be futile (Proverbs 5: 1-12). Choosing to run away would be the best course of action to take, just like Joseph’s fleeing from the temptation of Potiphar’s wife.


                      
It will be a grievous mistake to assume that the believers’ will is made completely new at conversion and that, in our faith journey, we will never fall away, deny God or give up our faith. To think in this manner is to breed complacency and set ourselves up for deception.

For many believers—even great leaders—have fallen. And many more believers will continue to fall if they persist in embracing these false beliefs:
  • that their will has been completely renewed at the point of conversion.
  • that free will is unimportant and has no part to play in their lives.

To reiterate, though our ‘spirit man’ has been made new at conversion (2 Corinthians 5:17), our will remains neutral. We can still fall into immorality just like the Exodus crowd if we are not vigilant (1 Corinthians 10:1-12). Even the great apostle Paul had to exercise discipline in the spiritual race so that he will not be disqualified (1 Corinthians 9: 24-27). We can still deny God even though we have been believers for many years (2 Timothy 2: 12-13, 2 Peter 2:20).

Whether they are men or angels, all of God’s creation can choose to obey Him or rebel against Him. But this freedom of choice comes with a catch. Those who rebel against His authority will be held accountable. They will have to face judgment eventually (Jude 1:5-7).

Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day—just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.
(Jude 1:5-7).

God has been most gracious to us by giving us freedom of choice. As believers, we still retain this privilege of exercising our free will. We can choose either to obey Him or reject His ways. However, having made our choice, we cannot choose the consequences of our decision.  

                                                                       

RELATED POSTS

FIVE KEYS TO OVERCOME SEXUAL TEMPTATION
RESIST, FLEE, CELEBRATE, BE EMPOWERED, RECOGNISE THE HEAVY PRICE OF SEXUAL SIN.

MOTHER OF ALL BATTLES
A clear understanding of the ongoing battle between the “old man” and “new man” is essential before we can walk in victory.

CAN TRUE BELIEVERS DENY THEIR MASTER?
In light of the pressure faced by persecuted Christians in the Middle East, this is an important question that needs to be asked.
http://bit.ly/SFapBp

Friday, 17 April 2015

FAITHFUL TO OUR CALLING

Knowing that God keeps us faithful till the end is not enough. We have to seek to understand His will for our lives and then live it out. In these end times when evil abounds, it is all the more important that we live intentionally and purposefully.

                                                                    
Findings by researchers on church growth show that only 20% of churchgoers have found their gifting and place in the Body of Christ. The rest, about 80%, are merely passive Sunday worshippers.

Which category would you like to be in? What does it mean to be faithful to our calling?

God who began the good work in believers ensures that we remain faithful till the end. Finally when our journey in life is over, we gain entrance into heaven and receive our due reward.

What a glorious day it would be when we find rest for our souls, having endured the toil and troubles that continually beset our transient earthly existence.

  • “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ”(Philippians 1:6).


  • “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy” (Jude 1:24).

However, is this the complete story? What about our part? Do we merely accept Jesus by faith, sit back and allow God to keep us safe till we attain eternal bliss?

God sent His Son to die on the cross for our sins so that we can be forgiven when we place our trust in Him. What God has done, we certainly cannot do. Now He asks us to do what He will not do for us: Seek His will and do it.

                                                                      
Long ago, the disciples were only thinking about food when hunger pangs set in. But Jesus told them that there is something more they should be focusing on—doing God’s will. Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work” (John 4:34). 


Believers have a limited, finite period to discharge the God-ordained task He has placed in our hands. We must emulate the sense of urgency in Jesus’ life and mission. “We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work (John 9:4). http://bit.ly/1iLeGuV

The apostle Paul enjoins believers to live purposefully—enlightened by an understanding of God’s will—because the days are evil. “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:15-17).

If evil was prevalent in Paul’s day, how much more exceedingly evil it is in these end times when men are lovers of self, money and pleasure rather than lovers of God—holding a form of religion but denying its power (2 Timothy 3:1-5).

How much more, then, we ought to live intentionally in these perilous end times!

Having understood and determined God’s specific will for our lives, the next step is to live a life worthy of our high calling.


                                                                          
While some have high profile gifts, others assume a quieter role in the background (Ephesians 4:11-13, Romans 12:6-8, 1 Corinthians 12: 4-7).

For example, if we are not called to be a teacher of the Word, we can exercise our gifts in other areas such as hospitality (1 Peter 4:9-11).

If we have no sense of calling in life, we tend to drift along in life like flotsam. http://bit.ly/1aAGtZG

Many well-meaning believers are deeply involved in a particular ministry—meeting diverse needs, spreading themselves thin, “fighting fires” with leaky hoses and blunt axes. But if they don’t have a clear understanding of their primary calling in life, they won’t be effective.



Philosopher and theologian, Dr Ramesh Richard, once challenged some leaders to reduce their life work to one word, which to him is “proclamation”. We too need to find that 'one word' that best describes our life work.

To be faithful in our calling also means that we are willing to be good stewards of the time, talents and resources God has endowed us with (Parable of the Talents). The servants who received five and two talents were equally commended for being faithful. The productivity facts and figures aren’t exactly what God is looking for; it’s our faithfulness in managing the talents that counts. Woe betide any believer who buries his talent. Such a believer is epitomised by the one-talent servant who was condemned as wicked and slothful and cast into the outer darkness (Matthew 25:14-30).

Jesus issues a word of warning to those who rest on their laurels, who religiously say and do the right things but do not do his will:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
(Matthew 7:21-23)

Knowing that God keeps us faithful till the end is not enough. We have to seek to understand His will for our lives and then live it out. In these end times when evil abounds, it is all the more important that we live intentionally and purposefully.

Besides working to support ourselves, which is a legitimate pursuit, can we truly echo Jesus’ words, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work”?

RELATED POSTS

WHEN GOD CALLS
Identifying some of the characteristics of a divine calling
When God calls, He is more likely to speak first to a person rather than a committee

THE POWER OF VISION
By embracing a God-inspired vision, we can live purposefully—by design and not by default.

STEPPING INTO OUR DESTINY
When we step out by faith to embrace God’s calling, we need to focus on His promises rather than obstacles.

SINGLE-MINDEDNESS
Being so focused and determined that we have one objective in mind. Once Jesus and Paul knew for certain what God wanted them to do, nothing on earth could make them change their minds. They set their faces like flint towards Jerusalem.


REFERENCES


Have you found your gifting and place in the Body of Christ?

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
(Ephesians 4:11-13)

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
(Romans 12:6-8)

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
(1 Corinthians 12: 4-7)

Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.
(1 Peter 4:9-11)

The Parable of the Talents

“For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master's money. Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
(Matthew 25:14-30)



HOW TO QUICKLY ACCESS PORRIDGE


 For a quick overview: http://bit.ly/1ijiXHp

Friday, 10 April 2015

IS CALVIN CORRECT?

John Calvin, the great reformer, believed that Christians can never lose their salvation. That is, Once Saved, Always Saved (OSAS). Is he correct?

A central doctrine of the great reformer, John Calvin, is this: “That God, by His sovereign grace, predestines people into salvation and that Jesus died only for those predestined and that God regenerates the individual to where he is then able to and wants to choose God and that it is impossible for those who are redeemed to lose their salvation.”  https://carm.org/calvinism

One of the key doctrines in Calvinism is Perseverance of the Saints: “You cannot lose your salvation. Because the Father has elected, the Son has redeemed, and the Holy Spirit has applied salvation, those thus saved are eternally secure. They are eternally secure in Christ. Some of the verses for this position are John 10:27-28 where Jesus said that His sheep will never perish; John 6:47 where salvation is described as everlasting life; Romans 8:1 where it is said we have passed out of judgment; 1 Cor. 10:13 where God promises to never let us be tempted beyond what we can handle; and Phil. 1:6 where God is the one being faithful to perfect us until the day of Jesus' return.” https://carm.org/calvinism

Great as he was in his timeand great as he is to adherents of his doctrine todayis Calvin correct? 

Is his claim that Christians cannot possibly lose their salvation valid? Is his claim that believers who are Once Saved will Always be Saved (OSAS) correct?

In other words, is there such a thing as eternal security? Does it mean that once you have made Jesus your Lord and Saviour, you are definitely on your way to heaven, no matter what happens?

How about when we continue to live in sin or deny Christ after conversion?

                                                                         
It is the contention of this blog that John Calvin is in gross error with regards to eternal security and that OSAS is a lie. The following outlines five reasons why I take this stance.
                                                                         
Five ways believers could possibly jeopardise their eternal destiny

It seems that believers in Christ have nothing to fear regarding their eternal destiny as nothing can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39).

Furthermore, believers have been chosen and destined to be God’s people and have been sealed with the Holy Spirit, “who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance” (Ephesians 1:4-5, 13-14).

It seems they have already bought their ticket to heaven. And, one day when their sojourn on earth is completed, they will get to enjoy eternal bliss.

True, in most cases, believers have this assurance that their eternal destiny is safe and secure. Even when they sin, provided they confess their sins, repent and start over a new leaf, their eternal destiny remains secure.

God often disciplines His children who have gone astray. But He also draws them back to Him with the cords of love and gives them multiple chances to repent. Hosea was told by God to woo back his unfaithful wife, mirroring God’s attitude towards wayward Israel.

The Parable of the Prodigal Son and the account where Jesus forgave the woman caught in the act of adultery speak volumes about a God who is slow to anger and willing to forgive. Indeed, where will we be if not for the grace and mercy of God?

However, under special circumstances, believers may risk losing their salvation:

  • CONTINUAL LIVING IN SIN


  • WILLFUL DENIAL


  • FAILURE TO OVERCOME DECEPTION


  • PRESUMPTUOUS FAITH


  • FAILURE TO PERSEVERE

Let’s consider each in turn.

CONTINUAL LIVING IN SIN

If believers continue to sin with impunity—their consciences progressively hardened despite the prompting and conviction of Holy Spirit—they might reach a point of ‘no return’ when their chances of getting to heaven may be seriously jeopardised.

“I wish to remind you, as you all know, that God, when once he had brought the people out from Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe” (Jude 1:5). For an amplification of this reference in Jude, go to 1 Corinthians 10:1-11.

If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God (Hebrews 10:26-27).

And when people escape from the wickedness of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and then get tangled up and enslaved by sin again, they are worse off than before. It would be better if they had never known the way to righteousness than to know it and then reject the command they were given to live a holy life. They prove the truth of this proverb: “A dog returns to its vomit.” And another says, “A washed pig returns to the mud” (2 Peter 2:20-22).

More on what happens when believers sin repetitively: http://bit.ly/1hhs75c

WILLFUL DENIAL

If believers willfully deny God—whether it out of rebellion or in the face of persecution—their eternal destiny may also be at stake.

If we endure,
We shall also reign with Him.
If we deny Him,
He also will deny us.
(2 Timothy 2:12).

For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they then commit apostasy, since they crucify the Son of God on their own account and hold him up to contempt. For land which has drunk the rain that often falls upon it, and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed; its end is to be burned.
(Hebrews 6: 4-8)

FAILURE TO OVERCOME DECEPTION

When believers are not discerning and vigilant and fall prey to deception, then their place in heaven may no longer be assured.

The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved (2 Thessalonians 2:9-10).

Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived (2 Timothy 3:12-13  * ).

But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction (2 Peter 2:1 * ).

Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you (1 Timothy 4:16 * ). This implies that if we embrace false doctrine, we will not be saved.

Notice from these preceding three references * on deception, we can infer that both deceivers and deceived—perpetrators and victims—bring destruction upon themselves.

Believers have to preserve themselves unscathed from deception in order that they might be saved: Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved (Matthew 24:10b-13). 

PRESUMPTUOUS FAITH

Some might pat themselves on the back and say, “Well, we have been serving God for many years, and have been mightily used by God to minister in signs and wonders. Since God has been using us as channels to bless others, He definitely must be pleased with us, right?” This may be true. But it may not necessarily be so.

To assume that performance can replace a personal relationship with God is being presumptuous. Here’s why:

Therefore by their fruits you will know them. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (Matthew 7: 20-23).

The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess’(Luke 18: 11-12).

“I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth! You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realise that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked (Revelation 3:15-17).

Like the Pharisee and the church at Laodicea in Revelation, we might think we are spiritually rich. But, in fact, we are just the opposite—spiritually poor.

We are most blessed, Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount, when we recognise we are spiritually poor (Matthew 5: 3) and hunger and thirst after righteousness (Matthew 5:6).

Here is an example of a dangerous presumption: To think that our future sins have been automatically forgiven at conversion (FSAF). http://bit.ly/1dXOjBB

FAILURE TO PERSEVERE

Hebrews chapter 10 reinforces the fact that persevering faith is needed to remain saved:
But my righteous one will live by faith.
    And I take no pleasure
    in the one who shrinks back.”
But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.
(Hebrews 10:38-39).

Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved (Matthew 24:9-13). 


                                                                           

Self-discipline to finish the race

“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).

Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life (1 Timothy 6:12).

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith. (2 Timothy 4:7).

But how many have the faith to persevere?  Jesus laments in Luke 18:8b: “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?”

GOD WANTS US BUT WHAT IF WE DON’T WANT HIM?

                                                                             
If someone tells you it is written in scriptures that nothing can separate us from the love of God, you ought to point out that it is also written in the Word that we, on our part, can choose to deny God or continue living in sin, thereby nullifying God’s love for us.

While it is true we cannot be separated from God’s love because of His great mercy, we can choose to shoot ourselves in the foot by denying God or continually living in sin. Through these senseless volitional acts, we are nullifying God’s love towards us and jeopardising our eternal security.

Similarly, when we are presumptuous in our walk with God, fall prey to deception or fail to persevere, we cannot be fully assured that our eternal destiny will be secure.

If everything is on “autopilot mode” for Christians from the time of our conversion till we arrive in heaventhat is, we can just sit back and relax as we await the advent of heavenly blisswhy does the Bible warn us on many occasions that it is difficult for us to get to heaven? 


                                                                       

Just because a big name like John Calvin tells us that believers cannot possibly lose their salvation, it does not necessarily mean that we have to accept it without reservation. When we faithfully scrutinise his teaching against the Word a la the Bereans, we find many discrepancies.   

                                                                             
Finally, truth be told, we have to conclude that Calvin is mistaken and OSAS is a lie.

Are we a pawn of predestination? 

If God’s election and sovereignty are all that matters in deciding a person’s fate in eternitywithout taking into consideration factors such as free will, accountability and personal responsibilitythen it would seem that God is unfair and partial.  

Throughout the Bible, the notion is clear that God’s people could either choose life or death, choose to repent or continue to sin. To turn man into a “pawn of predestination” and remove this freedom of choice runs counter to the whole Word.

Even apostle Paul had to decide whether he would obey God and live up to the heavenly vision he received. Or merely rest on his laurels and still make it to heaven? (if what Calvin asserts is true). God forbid.

Calvinism illustrates the danger of overemphasising one aspect of truth (predestination) to the exclusion of other equally significant truths (free will and accountability).

Among the shocking results of Calvin’s erroneous thinking are the way he lived his life and his severity towards sinners. http://bit.ly/1Ebjwij

Of course, the more devastating result of his doctrinal error is to give believers a false sense of security that there is such a thing as Once Saved, Always Saved (OSAS)

Sadly, Calvin’s life also illustrates the fact that great understanding of theology does not necessarily lead to enlightenment or exemplary, righteous living.  

RELATED POSTS

IT TAKES TWO TO TANGO
Though believers in Christ are heaven-bound, there are conditions to be fulfilled before we arrive at our final destination and claim our eternal reward.

ONCE SAVED, FOREVER SECURE?
Some Christians believe, once they are saved, absolutely nothing can happen to them to alter their destiny. Even though they might live in sin or deny God, they believe that one day they will surely reach their final destination in heaven. Is this true?


EXTERNAL LINKS

SHOCKING BELIEFS OF JOHN CALVIN
 “It’s to show that even the most influential Christians who have changed the lives of countless people for good—Calvin being one of them—believed things that were surprising, shocking, and even outrageous.
-                     --   Frank Viola



ONCE SAVED ALWAYS SAVED TIMEBOMB
A must-watch video
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZBuVERFT9c



ETERNAL OR CONDITIONAL SECURITY? 
One of the best links to the perplexing issue of once saved, always saved (OSAS)