Further thoughts on 'Salvations Assurance'

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"Follow-up to 'The Security of the Believer'" (Daily Mountain Eagle, 2-8-2020, Religion) suggests there's a disjunction between the belief that salvation is permanent through our faith in the person of Jesus Christ and "Can't we see... that grace, faith, and obedience do not contradict the Almighty's promises...?" The former (that we cannot do enough wrong to lose our salvation) does not lead to the latter conclusion (that we ought not to be obedient to the grace that's been given or the faith we have proclaimed). This is a false comparison: apples and oranges. The "Follow-up" here changes to a different discussion about the plan of salvation (focusing on additional requirements, like baptism), not the point of my discussion, which examined the role our own sin or sinlessness plays in securing or losing salvation. While these issues are connected they're not identical. 

An unavoidable problem arises when requiring water baptism for salvation, which ignores the fact that in the Bible (from the animal sacrifices beginning in the Old Testament in Genesis, to the last blood sacrifice in the New Testament, Jesus Christ) blood is mandatory for remission of sins. This goes to the heart of the problem: proposing that by our "sinless" works we must add something in addition to the cross for the "completion" of salvation. Regardless of any denial if we add anything else (baptism or behavior) to finalize ("secure") salvation we inevitably create a works based salvation. This is unavoidable unless we set aside the rules of basic logic and the Bible demands consistency. Choosing verses out of context that seem to support this reasoning about baptism, "for" the remission of sins (like Romans 6:3-4), ignores the promises throughout the Bible that salvation is based upon belief alone. When the thief on the cross expressed his belief that Jesus had authority over all eternity, "Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:43). Nothing else was required, only a change of belief, one to another, from denial to acceptance. Not to mention that Baptism was impossible at that moment. The inclusion of this interchange between Jesus Christ on the cross and the thief was not accidental and teaches us undeniable truths about salvation. 

Additionally, we mistake the meaning of words like "for" (Romans 6:3-4) when we over invest our interpretations with translations from the English language and forget these texts come from the original Greek. The preposition "for" in the phrase "for the remission of sins" in Greek is "eis," unto or into. Linguistically this creates a different meaning. Greek clarifies this confusion by explaining why baptism is "for" the purpose of a public identification of salvation (to other believers). Sequentially, acceptance first: baptism takes place after "believing," when we believe that the punishment for our sins have been remitted (already) by the Savior. This in no way denies that "our" work ought to show our love for Jesus Christ only that our failures won't threaten the security of our salvation. 

In a general sense I also agree with "How can a person who does not obey say, he loves Jesus?" I just know from experience that even the "best" believers in Christ fail to demonstrate that love 100% of the time. I am neither surprised at this nor does it contradict Biblical teaching. My father (a Baptist minister for my first twelve years, and taught in Baptist Bible College and graduate school until he retired) spent years involved in personal and family counseling. He counseled thousands of individuals; almost a hundred percent who were professed Christians, church members, Bible students, fellow teachers, missionaries, or pastors. Through the years I heard him repeatedly say, "Sunday morning glory, Monday morning gloom," in reference to an all too common problem among those he counseled. This meant that even individuals he saw in church every Sunday morning, who talked about the greatness of the Lord, the love of Jesus, or all the wonderful things that God had done for them, would call him for counseling on the following Monday morning because (pick a difficulty) they "hated" themselves or their wives or their husbands or their church or their life. My father knew this truth from a unique perspective. These individuals (even those who had spent decades in Christian service) still struggled with all manner of interpersonal and intrapersonal conflicts no different than anyone else. When Christians succumb to this illusion they do so because they feel they have to hide this kind of "internal" conflict. The shame of such admission is too much to bear. This includes individuals who experienced a tragedy, the death of a child, a parent, a spouse, who might never actively practice their faith again. In fact, any of these individuals probably suffer more than anyone else because of the struggle between a conscience influenced by the Holy Spirit within them and the pervasiveness of sin in the world around them. This degree of guilt would likely only occur to a believer already.

When thinking about any of these problems it helps to realize sin is not just "out there" somewhere else anymore than rain (the totality of consequences of sin) falls only on the sinful. Sin sickens the entire fabric of the universe over and above all personal actions. Even so, just like I know there's no way for me to stop being my father's child, no matter what sinful (or stupid) things I do, I know that being a child of God is not any different. We are all "prodigal" children. In fact, knowledge of the former relationship provides instruction for how we are to think about the latter. Jesus used many parables and examples to teach ultimate truths. Like Paul I can say "For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do" (Romans 7:19) and still not doubt my salvation. 

David A. Cook, PhD • Jasper, AL