Wednesday, 19 August 2015

TOUGH QUESTIONS FOR FANS OF ETERNAL SECURITY

When you believe in eternal security, that is ‘Once Saved, Always Saved’ (OSAS), you are saying that whatever you do or fail to do after you have been saved will NOT affect your eternal destiny. In effect, you are implying that you do not need to be morally responsible or be accountable to God. Is such a mindset compatible with scriptures? 

There are many comforting verses that reassure us that eternal security—also known as ‘Once Saved, Always Saved’ (OSAS)—is true.

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand” (John 10:27-29).

“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).

Christ, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2) will bring everything to successful completion for believers. He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6).

Can anything ever separate us from the love of God once we have been saved? “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).

Election and predestination—that God sovereignly chose believers to be His children and lavished upon them His forgiveness and grace—is a most comforting truth because it implies that we cannot add anything more to what God has done (Ephesians 1: 4-7).

Furthermore, believers have been sealed with the Holy Spirit, “who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance” (Ephesians 1:13-14).

No doubt the above references are clearly in favour of eternal security. However, these verses are valid only up till a certain point. Can we say that they are true in every case without any exception?

When you believe in ‘Once Saved, Always Saved’ (OSAS), you are saying that whatever you do or fail to do after you have been saved will NOT affect your eternal destiny. In effect, you are implying that you do not need to be morally responsible or be accountable to God. Is such a mindset compatible with scriptures?

Some point out that God will never forsake believers and that nothing will ever separate us from His love (Hebrews 13:5, Matthew 28:20, Romans 8: 38-39).

But has this ever crossed our minds? God may not leave us but we can walk away from God. For it takes two to tango.

                                                                        


I too once believed that it is not possible for believers to lose their salvation—that believers can rest in the comforting assurance of eternal security.

But when challenged to answer the following questions, I am forced to reconsider my stance:

1.    Can Christians who willfully continue living in sin be saved?  **

2.    Can Christians who deny God be saved?

3.    Can Christians who commit apostasy (give up on their faith) be saved?

4.    Can Christians who take the mark of the beast be saved?

Let us consider each question in turn.

Can Christians who willfully continue living in sin be saved?

God’s chosen people were destroyed after their exodus from Egypt because they did not believe in God and sinned. This falling away, according to the apostle Paul, serves as a warning to believers that they need to persevere in their faith in order that they might not be destroyed.     
   

But I want to remind you, though you once knew this, that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.
(Jude 1:5)

Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.” Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.
(1 Corinthians 10:6-12)

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)

But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? All the righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; because of the unfaithfulness of which he is guilty and the sin which he has committed, because of them he shall die.
(Ezekiel 18: 24-25)

Can Christians who deny God be saved?

Many of us think it is highly unlikely that genuine Christians will deny God except under extremely trying circumstances—like when a gun barrel is pointed at one’s head. However, it is possible for true believers to deny Christ because God gave every man a free will.

The predisposing factor for believers to deny God is their sinful nature. While there is no sin that God’s grace and mercy cannot avail, we must not swing to the other extreme and underestimate the reality of our inner nature.

"The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” (Jeremiah 17:9).

Some claim that those who deny Christ were never really converted in the first place, I am truly puzzled. How are we going to reconcile this misguided stance with the evidence from scriptures, biblical examples and contemporary examples that show that it is possible for believers to deny God?

“If we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself”
(2 Timothy 2:12-13)

“Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers. And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other. And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people. Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:9-13).

“So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32-33).

Can Christians who commit apostasy be saved?

These are born again believers who later choose to give up on God. What is their eternal fate? Let’s look at what scriptures have to say concerning those who have once had all the characteristics of true believers.

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)

“For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them”
(2 Peter 2:20-21)

Can Christians who take the mark of the beast be saved?

During the Great Tribulation, the antichrist will unleash his wrath on believers. Many will have to choose between their allegiance to God or their survival. Why? It is because no one can buy or sell unless they choose to receive the antichrist’s mark of the beast.

Believers who choose God and refuse the mark might die of starvation or get killed by the antichrist. Conversely, those who choose survival by taking the mark will face everlasting damnation.

He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
(Revelation13:16-17)

If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.
(Revelation 14:9-10)

After considering the above questions and examining the answers found in scriptures, I am prepared to drop the eternal security premise once and for all.

Let this ‘Once Saved, Always Saved’ (OSAS) premise sink to the deepest ocean, Challenger Deep, which is the deep water off the Marianas Islands. If you cut Mount Everest off at sea level and put it at the bottom of the Challenger Deep, there would still be over a mile of water over the top of the peak.

If we just focus on the references given in the top half of this article (above references), it would seem that OSAS is true. But once we reflect on the four questions and their answers, we will have to come to the inescapable verdict that OSAS is a false doctrine that mollycoddles believers with a comforting but highly misleading promise.

We often think we are right until another viewpoint is presented: “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him” (Proverbs 18:17).

Assurance of salvation is a promise of God (Romans 8:38-39, John 3:16, John 1:12, 1 John 5:12). But let’s not take God for granted—willfully live in sin, deny God, commit apostasy or take the mark of the beast—and insist on the validity of the ‘feel good' teaching, eternal security or OSAS.

RELATED POSTS

BRACING FOR TOUGH TIMES
Many will lose faith in God during these perilous and tumultuous end times. Is this is a fact or a figment of someone’s imagination?

IT TAKES TWO TO TANGO
God may not leave us but we can walk away from God. It takes two to tango.

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.

 APPENDIX

   **   UNREPENTANT SIN REAPS GOD’S JUDGMENT

Those who think they can just say the sinner’s prayer once upon a time and then live a sinful lifestyle on account of the OSAS premise would be in for a rude shock on judgment day.

Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
(1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him.
(Ephesians 5:5-6)

So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming.
(Colossians 3:5-6)

When a righteous person turns away from his righteousness and does injustice, he shall die for it; for the injustice that he has done he shall die. Yet the house of Israel says, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ O house of Israel, are my ways not just? Is it not your ways that are not just? 
(Ezekiel 18: 26, 29)

But cowards, unbelievers, the corrupt, murderers, the immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol worshipers, and all liars—their fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.
(Revelation 21:8)

EXTERNAL LINKS


ONCE SAVED, ALWAYS SAVED?
Shocking declarations by renowned Bible teacher and author, David Pawson
Jesus says no one can snatch believers out from His hand (John 10:28) but He also says if believers do not abide in Him, they are thrown away like a branch and burned (John 15:6). The names of believers are written in the Book of Life but, if they fail to overcome, their names can be blotted out (Revelation 3:5). In fact, there are 80 passages warning believers that they can lose their salvation.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=No9Y1mUpB1E

WATCH HIM DEBUNK ‘ONCE SAVED, ALWAYS SAVED’ IN 30 MIN.
He shoots it down like a man with a machine gun. Good for those who do not like to read or study.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mz1bF3TXB1Y

CAN A GENUINE CHRISTIAN COMMIT APOSTASY?
Solid meat. Hard sayings. Many will rationalise that Hebrews 6: :4-8 does not refer to believers; they were unregenerate in the first place. Is it so?

APOSTASY IN THE CHURCH
How it is accelerating and how it relates to the return of Jesus.
http://www.lamblion.com/articles/articles_signs5.php


HOW TO QUICKLY ACCESS PORRIDGE


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


Thursday, 6 August 2015

THIRST NO MORE

There is a thirst that physical water cannot quench, a longing that nothing in this world can satisfy. Is it possible to quench this thirst and find spiritual fulfillment? How?

One day Jesus approached a woman who was drawing water from a well and asked a drink from her. It was a way to strike up a conversation with her. Later, he challenged her to ask “living water” from him. Jesus told her that whoever drinks this “living water” will never thirst again. Of course, he was not referring to the physical water that the woman was drawing from the well.

Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again. But anyone who drinks the water I give will never be thirsty again. The water I give people will be like a spring flowing inside them. It will bring them eternal life.”
(John 4: 13-14)

                                                                        
Deep within all of us, there is a spiritual vacuum. We may have great wealth, riches, fame and success—all the things that man worships and runs after—but we will not be satisfied.

Why? Because all these external things do not give adequate answers to deep, perplexing questions such as: What is the meaning of life? Who am I? Why am I born into this world? Who created me? Am I merely a creature of chance or a product of a supreme being who is a designer par excellence? Am I born to accomplish a special purpose that God has set for my life? Or am I just like an animal born with needs and appetites that have to be met?

According to Blaise Pascal, a physicist and philosopher, there is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God.

                                                                       
There is a thirst that physical water cannot quench, a longing that nothing in this world can satisfy. This thirst and longing are not for physical things but for spiritual fulfillment, which can only be found in God.

                                                                        
Jesus told this woman that if she drank this “living water” from Him, two things will happen to her:
  • Firstly, she would be able to quench her thirst and fill the spiritual vacuum in her life. 


  • Secondly, she will obtain eternal life—that is, when she dies, she will go to heaven and spend the rest of eternity with God.

To drink the “living water” that Jesus offers is tantamount to accepting Jesus, agreeing to the claims He made about Himself and assimilating the truths about Him into our lives.

When we drink of this “living water", we will obtain eternal life.

Furthermore, when we drink of this life-giving water, we will not thirst anymore.

Here are ten reasons why we will not thirst anymore:

1. Fear of death will be a thing of the past. Believers are delivered from the fear of death to which we have been subject to lifelong bondage. We rest in the blessed hope that death is not the end but the beginning of a life spent in eternity with God (1 Corinthians 15:55).

2. Life is no longer meaningless, an endless cycle of activities and striving after the wind. We are no longer filled with despair and despondency. We are no longer lost and confused about life. We no longer see ourselves as creatures who came into this world by chance. We are created by God, who loves us and has a plan and destiny for our lives.

3. We become a child of God. We are grateful that we have a heavenly Father who loves us, thinks of our welfare and what is best for our lives—though it may not be in line with what we think is ideal for us (Jeremiah 29:11).

4. God is our friend and guide, ready to counsel us in life issues such as our work, career and choice of life partner (John 15: 15, John 16: 13).

5. He fills us with the Holy Spirit who lives within us, gives us wisdom and direction, and empowers us to obey Him (John 7: 37-39).

6. God promises to meet all our needs when we trust and obey Him (John 15:7, Philippians 4:19).

7. His promise is that He will never leave us, especially in times of trouble (Hebrews 13:5, Matthew 28:20). Though He does not shield us from trials, He will not forsake us and will give us the strength and wisdom to weather the storms of life. When we are worried, God grants us peace, comfort and strength (John 14:27, Matthew 11:28, John 16:33, Isaiah 40:31).

8. He gives us the strength to overcome temptation through His Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 10: 13).

9. He reveals to us our identity and calling. Thus, we have a sense of purpose and destiny in life. Every day is an exciting adventure where God, as our co-worker, shows us how to utilise our time, talents and resources to please Him and bless others (John 15:16, Jeremiah 1:5). Life is fulfilling and meaningful; no longer an “accident” anymore (John 10:10).

10. We are able to face an uncertain future because we know God is with us. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the One who is the beginning and the end. We are safe when we know that He is in full control of the earth and universe (Psalm 46:1-3,10). 

Even today, Jesus’ challenge to anyone who thirsts for reality still holds true: “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water’” (John 7: 37-38).

                                                                        
Would you take up the challenge to be filled to the brim till you overflow?

Just like the woman at the well, we can drink and be satisfied … till we thirst no more.  

APPENDIX 

HOW CAN WE OBTAIN ETERNAL LIFE?
If we acknowledge we have sinned and believe that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, God will forgive us and we will go to heaven when we pass away. But we must not only trust Jesus as our Saviour but make Him the Lord of our lives. We must turn away from our sinful ways and seek to please and obey Him (John 1:12, John 3:16).

WHY ‘WATER’ USED AS A METAPHOR
Why did Jesus use the metaphor of ‘water’ to reach out to this woman? Water is essential for physical life. Also, water is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. The imagery of a spring bubbling forth speaks of the spontaneous outflow and working of the Spirit within a person (John 7: 37-38, 2 Corinthians 3:18). Once the Spirit starts a work of grace within a believer, He brings it to completion (Philippians 1:6). http://bit.ly/1aGn7T6

Why did Jesus use the act of drinking in relation to spiritual fulfillment? In Revelation 3:20, Christ invites those who want to know God to open their heart’s door and share a meal with Him. Dining is often a wonderful way to get to know a person better.

NO FEAR OF DEATH
Everyone who believes in Jesus need not fear death for He promises a place in heaven for all who believe in Him (John 11:25, John 14:1-3).

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.
(John 11:25)

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
(John 14:1-3)

ETERNAL LIFE THROUGH FAITH
To all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.
(John 1:12)

For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
(John 3:16)

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RIVERS OF LIVING WATER
What does Jesus mean when He says: Whoever believes in me, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water?

WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
People are motivated by different goals in life. Some live for fame or power. Others get enamoured with money or pleasure. However, some are driven by noble objectives such as helping the poor, fighting human trafficking or preserving the environment, which give them a sense of fulfillment in life. But will all these things really satisfy man’s deepest longings?

CAN SCIENCE SHOW US THE MEANING OF LIFE?
Can man’s great understanding of the world around him enable him to find meaning and purpose in life?

EXTERNAL LINKS



                                                                 Pic Source: The Cornerstone
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE BORN AGAIN?
“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38). Peter was giving them the plan of salvation: repentance, baptism, and the infilling of the Holy Ghost. If being born again is to be saved, Peter was evidently talking to them about being saved.
http://www.endtime.com/what-do-you-mean-born-again/

DEEPER IN LOVE
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CwEKRZ0I7Gg
(Lyrics by Don Moen)
There is a longing
only You can fill
A raging tempest
only You can still
My soul is thirsty Lord
to know You as I'm known
Drink from the river
that flows before Your throne.

Monday, 3 August 2015

WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?

In our busy lives packed with various tasks and schedules, have we ever paused to ask ourselves, “What is the meaning of life?”

Who am I? Why am I born into this world? Who created me? Am I merely a creature of chance or a product of a supreme being who is a designer par excellence? Am I born to accomplish a special purpose that God has set for my life? Or am I just like an animal born with needs and appetites that have to be met?

What is this meaningless cycle of life that most will have to go through? Is life meant to be something like this: Go to school, work hard, enter university, work hard, get a degree, secure a good job, buy a house and a car, get married, have children, then grandchildren, get to play with them and then watch TV on our rocking chair the rest of our lives till we die?

Abraham Maslow, a psychologist, believes that people are motivated to achieve certain needs. This hierarchy of needs is depicted as different levels within a pyramid: physiological, safety, love and sense of belonging, esteem and self-actualization. When one need is fulfilled, a person seeks to fulfill the next one. For example, once our physiological needs are being met, we shift upwards towards fulfilling our need for safety.

                                                                      
People are motivated by different goals in life. Some live for fame or power. Others get enamoured with money or pleasure. For some, a spin in a Ferrari gives a sense of accomplishment that they have arrived. Others set even higher goals; they can only be happy when they get to cruise on their own luxury yacht. 

However, some are driven by noble objectives such as helping the poor, fighting human trafficking or preserving the environment so that they will be remembered long after they are gone. These humanitarian goals give them a sense of fulfillment in life.

But will all these things really satisfy man’s deepest longings? Blaise Pascal, a physicist and philosopher says: “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.”

                                                                        
We may have a string of impressive accomplishments and accumulated property but, one day, we will have to leave all these things behind. We will all age and finally die.

In order to appreciate the futility of worldly success, let us consider the last wishes of Alexander the Great. On his death bed, he summoned his generals and shared his three ultimate wishes:

1. The best doctors should carry his coffin.

2. The wealth he has accumulated (money, gold, precious stones) should be scattered along the procession to the cemetery.

3. His hands should be let loose so they hang outside the coffin for all to see.

Surprised by his unusual request, his generals asked Alexander to explain. Here is what the great man had to say:

1. I want the best doctors to carry my coffin to demonstrate that, in the face of death, even the best doctors in the world have no power to heal.

2. I want the road to be covered with my treasures so that all can see that the material wealth we acquire stays behind when we die.

3. I want my hands to be exposed so that people will understand that we come into this world empty-handed and we leave this world in a similar state. We cannot take any material wealth with us to the grave.

When we are young, we tend to think we are immortal. We put away depressing thoughts about growing old and dying. But we have to face reality. Life is unpredictable and short. The Chinese have this saying that coffins come in various sizes: Some are so small they are meant to fit infants while others are full size to fit grown-up adults.

The writer of Ecclesiastes reminds us that one day we will definitely grow old and pass away:
Keep your Creator in mind while you are young! In years to come, you will be burdened down with troubles and say, “I don’t enjoy life anymore.”
Someday the light of the sun
and the moon and the stars
    will all seem dim to you.
Rain clouds will remain
    over your head.
Your body will grow feeble,
your teeth will decay,
    and your eyesight fail.
The noisy grinding of grain
will be shut out
    by your deaf ears,
but even the song of a bird
    will keep you awake.
You will be afraid
to climb up a hill
    or walk down a road.
Your hair will turn as white
    as almond blossoms.
You will feel lifeless
and drag along
    like an old grasshopper.
We each go to our eternal home,
and the streets are filled
    with those who mourn.
The silver cord snaps,
    the golden bowl breaks;
the water pitcher is smashed,
and the pulley at the well
    is shattered.
So our bodies return
    to the earth,
and the life-giving breath
    returns to God.
Nothing makes sense.
I have seen it all—
    nothing makes sense.
(Ecclesiastes 12:1-8)

Ecclesiastes reminds us that life on earth is all in vain if we do not have a higher purpose. Its writer, King Solomon, had everything a man could possibly ask but he still felt empty inside. He built beautiful gardens and palaces and had great herds and flocks. He had many singers, slaves and concubines to cheer him up. He had unimaginable wisdom, pleasures and riches but he still felt that everything is in vain. What does man gain by all his toil, riches and pleasures on earth? Like animals, he will have to die one day.

For a man who seemingly had everything in life, what was Solomon’s conclusion about life? Here is his answer: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

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WHO AM I?
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Even without post-traumatic amnesia, this is a most significant question that we need to pose to ourselves.

MAN PROPOSES, GOD DISPOSES
John had great plans for his retirement. Having made his pile in the Malaysian real estate business, he dreamed of spending his twilight years with his wife in his own retirement cottage in the Cotswolds. But …

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