Daily Archives: 12/15/2013

Can Christians lose their salvation?

ONCE SAVED, ALWAYS SAVED? CAN I LOSE MY SALVATION? HOW CAN I HAVE THE ASSURANCE OF SALVATION?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Can Christians lose their salvation? Must we do good works to maintain (keep) our salvation? Is salvation instantaneous (once for all) or progressive (throughout your lifetime)? Let us look at the Bible verses people often use to refute and reject the doctrine of “once saved, always saved” (the eternal security of the believer). The confusion would disappear if people would “study… rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

Read Galatians 5:4: “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.” Does the expression “fallen from grace” mean that some of the Galatians lost their salvation? Of course not, because Paul calls these Galatians “brethren” nine times (Galatians 1:11, 3:15, 4:12, 4:28, 4:30, 5:11, 5:13, 6:1, 6:18)!

Galatia was being pummeled with false teaching and works-religion (Judaism). Some of these poor believers had been deceived to the point where they were now laboring under the Mosaic Law to receive salvation… salvation they had already received by grace through faith without works (Galatians 3:2,3). “Fallen from grace” simply means that some of the Galatians gave up on the grace system—being rewarded on the basis of Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork on Calvary—because they preferred legalism—being rewarded on the basis of their works/performance (cf. Romans 4:1-8; Romans 11:6; Ephesians 2:8,9; Galatians 2:16-21; Titus 3:5).

For those who are unfamiliar with dispensational Bible study (mid-Acts dispensationalism / Pauline dispensationalism), Hebrews 6:4-6 can be quite confusing. Let us look at that passage: “[4] For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, [5] And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, [6] If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.”

The goal of dispensational Bible study and right division is to determine the audience of the particular Bible passage. In this case, obviously, the writer is addressing Jews—after all, it is the epistle to the Hebrews. The people being addressed in the above passage are the nation Israel.

All of Israel saw Jesus Christ’s miracles. They saw the supernatural events on the day of Pentecost in Acts chapter 2. If the miracles, signs, and wonders of Christ’s earthly ministry and Acts chapter 2 were not enough proof to win the Jews to salvation, there was nothing else to convince them. Jesus told Israel, “Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe” (John 4:48). These Jews saw the power of the Holy Spirit, but they rejected God in unbelief. Consider Hebrews 2:3,4: “[3] How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; [4] God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?”

Again, the “we” is the nation Israel—it was the Jews, not us. We see the reference to Christ’s miracles and preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom during His earthly ministry (“the great salvation which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord;” Matthew 4:17). Obviously, the “gifts of the Holy Spirit” is a reference to Pentecost and Acts chapter 2, the power of the Holy Spirit being manifested (see Luke 24:49). Recall that we examined Hebrews 6:4-6, which mentioned “the powers of the world to come.” When Jesus Christ and His apostles performed miracles, they were demonstrating the power that was coming in the kingdom: when Christ will establish His kingdom on the earth, the curse would be lifted from creation and there would be no more sickness or unclean spirits (devils (Isaiah 35:1-10; Zechariah 13:1-2; et al.).

Acts chapter 2, Hebrews chapter 2, and Hebrews chapter 6 have nothing to do with anyone reading this. These passages describe Israel’s program, which is not the program that God is operating today. Period. At this point, we will look a related matter that many people have confused. Do you ever wonder if you are guilty of committing the “unpardonable sin” of Matthew 12:31-32, Mark 3:28-30, and Luke 12:10, the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost? Let me assure you that this has nothing do with us today; this special sin of blaspheming against the Holy Ghost relates to the nation Israel (see our study “Have I blasphemed against the Holy Ghost?”).

Can we be “more saved” one day, and “less saved” another day? Do good works somehow “enhance” our salvation? Philippians 3:12-15 has been wrested and twisted to promote this absurd teaching. First, here is the passage: “[12] Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. [13] Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, [14] I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. [15] Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.”

This has absolutely nothing to do with us working for our salvation. The Apostle Paul is talking about spiritual maturity/spiritual growth (notice “perfect;” verses 12 and 15). Once we gain a better understanding of God’s Word, we should put forth an effort to seek more sound doctrine, and desire to allow that sound doctrine to mature us in the inner man. Paul admits in verse 13 that he has not yet reached the level of spiritual maturity that he needs to, but that he is putting forth the effort in allowing God’s Word to work effectually in him, as he believes it.

Philippians 2:12 is another one false teachers like to twist, but notice what the verse actually says in the King James Bible: “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” Again, there is no working for salvation here: the verse does not say “work for your own salvation,” the verse says “work out your own salvation.” This is talking about your lifestyle and testimony—if you claim to be saved, then act like it (do not fall prey to pride, which is the context)! (Another verse often misunderstood in this regard is 1 Corinthians 9:27.)

The next verse (Philippians 2:13) says, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” This means that you, as a Christian, should be yielding yourself to the Lord’s will so that He can do His work in you, so that your life will reflect God’s working in you (cf. Galatians 5:1-26). Recall that Paul forbade the Galatians from working for salvation (cf. Romans 4:1-5; Ephesians 2:8,9).

You will often hear of “he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” That phrase appears in the Bible three times: Matthew 10:22, Matthew 24:13, and Mark 13:13. Do not let someone (mis)quoting these verses make you doubt your salvation. The context of each of these verses is the seven-year Tribulation, Daniel’s 70th week. See for yourself; do not take my word for it. These verses are Israel’s program, and they have no relation to us today in this the Dispensation of Grace. (The Church the Body of Christ will be absent from earth during the Tribulation anyway!) This salvation is actually a physical salvation; “and except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” (Matthew 24:22).

In Old Testament Israel, it can be quite difficult to establish how salvation worked. We do know that it was always by faith in what God said. Still, there was no permanent indwelling Holy Spirit, and He sometimes came to and went from people. In fact, King David writes in Psalm 51:11: “Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.” (Another verse people twist today to promote loss of salvation.) In light of 2 Samuel 7:15, we do not know if King Saul was saved or if he went to hellfire. Or, we know all of Israel was delivered out of Egypt, yet some Jews died in unbelief in the wilderness before they reached the Promised Land (Jude 5). But, remember, there was no permanent indwelling Holy Spirit back then. What we do know is that those Old Testament saints in Hebrews chapter 11 were saved.

None of those verses I just mentioned have anything to do with us—this is Israel’s program. We are under a new dispensation (grace) under a new apostleship (Paul), in a new program (mystery), and in a new agency (the Church the Body of Christ). We will discuss this more fully in a moment.

Okay, let us look at one final passage. Read 2 Peter 2:20-21: “[20] For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. [21] For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.”

The context is false teachers. It relates to what discussed earlier in Hebrews chapters 2 and 6. Peter is referring to those who saw all the miracles of Acts chapters 2, but opposed God’s working and used false teaching to encourage other Jews to rebel against God’s purpose and program for Israel. Let me also say that anyone who fully understands the Gospel of Grace and how to be saved, and they reject it in unbelief, then yes, they are not saved. But they never had salvation to lose, so this is not loss of salvation!

Today, in this the Dispensation of the Grace of God, the Bible says that God accepts those who are “in the beloved,” in His Son Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:6). How do we get “in Christ?” Trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, His death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for your sins: see Paul’s Gospel of Grace in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He was raised again the third day for our justification.” Salvation from sins and hell and salvation unto justification (right standing before God) is instantaneous, not a lifelong process. If a true believer in Christ ever lost his/her salvation, that would mean God rejected His Son! You would have to throw away all the verses that Paul says confirms the believer’s salvation forever (Romans 5:1,2; Romans 8:29-39; 2 Corinthians 5:6-8; Ephesians 1:13,14; Ephesians 4:30; Philippians 1:6; 2 Timothy 1:12).

The Corinthians were the least spiritual and the most immature believers in Scripture. Yet, the Apostle Paul wrote that God would confirm (preserve) them unto the end so that they would be blameless at the rapture (1 Corinthians 1:7-8). Verse 9 tells us why—“God is faithful.” Believers in Christ make mistakes, but “the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). Colossians 1:14 says that “we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.”

We have been forgiven of all trespasses and sins for Christ’s sake (Ephesians 4:32). Our salvation is not gained by our efforts, so our salvation cannot be maintained by our efforts (see Romans 11:6; Galatians 3:3; Colossians 2:6,7). How can sinful people go to heaven? When a person believes the Gospel of Grace, the blood of Jesus Christ and His righteousness are imputed (applied) to them (Romans 4:1-5). When a believer in Christ sins today, God does not see the sin, He only sees the blood of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Once we have salvation, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit until the rapture (Ephesians 1:13; Ephesians 4:30). God does not want you as a believer in Christ doubt your salvation. Our salvation does not depend on our performance or our faithfulness; the salvation we enjoy today as believers is solely dependent upon what Christ did for us already at Calvary!

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SUPPLEMENT

By the way, you should be aware of the heresy in modern English Bibles—NIV, NASB, NKJV, et al. promote progressive salvation!! In 1 Corinthians 1:18 and 2 Corinthians 2:15, does your Bible say “are being saved” rather than the ’s “are saved?” In 1 Peter 2:2, does your Bible say you can you “grow into salvation” rather than the ’s “grow [in maturity]?” Indeed, if you do not have God’s Word, you can promote false teaching. The Bible versions debate is a serious matter, so I suggest you get a King James Bible… it is the only solid ground in regards to God’s Word in English!

Also see:
» What is lordship salvation? (UPCOMING)
» Are we saved by faith alone, or by faith and works? (UPCOMING)
» What is the sin of presumption? (UPCOMING)

Must I tithe 10% of my income?

Are we obligated to tithe 10% of our income? WILL GOD BLESS ME IF I GIVE A LOT? WILL HE CURSE ME IF I GIVE TOO LITTLE, OR NOT AT ALL?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Preachers urge us to tithe regularly in order to gain God’s blessings and favor. Some will even go so far as to say that if we do not tithe, then we are “cursed.” Are we obligated to tithe today as members of the Church the Body of Christ? How much money should we give God? Ten percent of our income? Ninety percent? Will God curse us if we do not give, or if we give too little? Will God bless us if we give a lot? We need to search the Scriptures, and be Bereans, not naïve sheep that believe preachers and church tradition (Acts 17:10,11)!

In order to answer this question about tithing, we need to look at God’s Word rightly divided. According to the Apostle Paul, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). This is the way God has designed His Word to be studied—“rightly divided.” What does that mean exactly?

According to God, He has “divided” His Word into two programs: one of these programs is focused on the heaven, and the other program is focused on the earth (Genesis 1:1; Ephesians 1:9,10; Colossians 1:16-20). God’s program focused on the earth is known as the “prophetic program,” or that “which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:21). The “mystery program,” that “which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest” (Romans 16:25,26a), is God’s program for the heaven.

These two programs have their unique assembly of believers: the prophetic program belongs to the nation Israel, and the mystery program belongs to the Church the Body of Christ. God’s Word gives doctrine for Israel (Law), and gives another set of doctrine for the Body of Christ (Grace). We must never confuse the nation Israel with the Church the Body of Christ. Never should we combine instructions that God gave to Israel with instructions God gives us as members of the Body of Christ. When studying the Bible, it is extremely important to keep these distinctions and differences in mind. With that said, we can now address tithing.

When you ask the average church member about tithing, he or she will explain tithing as his or her denomination/church defines it, but most church members do not have a clear understanding of how God defines tithing. For instance, when I asked a pastor to explain the tithe to me, he described tithing as his denomination defines it—the poor brother could not tell me what the tithe is in the Bible. How sad, and this was supposed to be a church leader who guides Christians!!! How can he guide them into God’s truth when he did not even know what God’s truth was?!?

The first time “tithe” appears in the Bible is in Genesis 14:20, where Abraham gives one-tenth of the spoils to Melchizedek the king of Salem. For the next 500 years or so, the Bible does not mention tithing. Finally, in Leviticus 27:30, with the establishment of the Mosaic Law (God’s set of rules and regulations for Israel’s religious, social, and moral life), the LORD instructs Israel to tithe.

GIVING UNDER THE LAW OF MOSES (TITHE)

  1. THE TITHE WAS A MANDATED OBLIGATION. Because the tithe was part of the Mosaic Law, it was a mandated tithe, and the Jews were forced to give (notice the JEWS were instructed to give the tithe; Amos 4:4,5).
  2. THE TITHE GIVEN TO SUPPORT PRIESTHOOD/GOVERNMENT, NOT LOCAL CHURCH. The tithe was to be given to the Levites, Israel’s priesthood. Aaron’s sons had no inheritance or land because they served as Israel’s government and served in the temple (see Numbers 18:21-32, Nehemiah 10:37,38, Nehemiah 12:44, Nehemiah 13:5, and Hebrews 7:4-9 to find out about Israel’s theocracy). Essentially, the tithe was a tax paid to Israeli government.
  3. THE TITHE DID NOT ALWAYS INVOLVE MONEY. Leviticus 27:30-34 mentions tithing, but says nothing about money. So, what were they tithing? The Jews gave ten percent of seed (grain), fruit of the tree, tithe of the herd, the flock, and so on. If a Jew had ten sheep, he had to give one-tenth of that—one sheep. Or, if he had forty goats, he gave four goats. If he wanted to convert that animal and sell it for money and then bring the money to the temple, he would have to add 20% to the price and give the entire amount to the priest.
  4. THE TITHE WAS BROUGHT TO TABERNACLE/TEMPLE. Malachi 3:8-11 commanded Israel to bring their tithes into the “storehouse,” the warehouse of the Temple. This is where the priests stored the tithed grain and other crops. Israel’s priests would then live off of that storage. The command to bring the tithes to the Tabernacle/Temple can be found in other places such as Deuteronomy 12:6, 11; Deuteronomy 26:12; and 2 Chronicles 31:11,12.
  5. ADDITIONAL TITHES. The “ten percent” was just one type of tithing in Old Testament Israel. Jewish males were required to travel to the Temple in Jerusalem three times a year, for three feasts (or holydays) of Judaism: Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles (Exodus 23:14-19; Deuteronomy 16:16). In order to fund their trip and pay for their accommodations in Jerusalem, God instructed them to set aside an additional ten percent of their net income (after they paid the first tithe; see Deuteronomy 14:22-26): this second tithe was optional. There was a third type of tithe that supported the welfare system in Israel (Deuteronomy 14:28-29; Deuteronomy 26:12); it was also voluntary, but was given every three years. So, had a Jew been giving all three tithes annually, it was not just ten percent, but an additional ten percent plus three and two-thirds percent (or an additional 13.33% to the 10%)! It was a total of 23.33% to 25% tithe every year!

That is a simple overview of the Old Testament tithe. Surely, you see that the tithe was a burden for Israel. In this the Dispensation of Grace, we as members of the Church the Body of Christ are separate from God’s covenant people the nation Israel. What God told Israel to do then does not necessarily apply to us today. So, why is tithing unnecessary today? Compare each of the numbers below with the numbered points above.

GIVING IN THE DISPENSATION OF GRACE (NO TITHE)

  1. MOSAIC LAW INAPPLICABLE TO BODY OF CHRIST. We are not under the legalistic economy of Israel in the Old Testament—we are “not under the law, but under grace” (Romans 6:1,2,14,15). Paul also emphasized that throughout the book of Galatians. The tithe was part of the Mosaic Law, and the Mosaic Law was put to death with Christ (Colossians 2:14)!  The system of tithing is Law, legalism, performing to get God’s blessings. However, the Bible says that the Holy Spirit will not lead us Christians to go back under that performance-based acceptance system. Read what the Holy Spirit through Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 3:17: “Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” And Galatians 5:18: “But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.” Again, the Spirit of God will not place us under law, we are under grace (Romans 6:14). We are not forced to give money today because this would be in complete opposition to the Apostle Paul’s instructions for the Body of Christ: “do not give grudgingly or of necessity, for God loveth a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:6-7). “Cheerfully” means “giving whole-heartedly.” God wants believers to give willingly, giving excitedly and eagerly. I give money to my local church, not as a mandated tithe, but as a free will offering to further the Church the Body of Christ and the Gospel of the Grace of God! Interestingly, Paul never once uses the word “tithe!” He only uses the term “collection” (1 Corinthians 16:1-3). Also, I give what I want; no specific amount. In fact, the Bible says we should have nothing to do with Christians who are extortioners, and denominational preachers who force people to tithe are in fact extorting money from them! Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 5:11: “But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolator, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.”
  2. THERE IS NO PRIESTHOOD IN ISRAEL TODAY! In His Word, God told Israel to give a tithe to their priests; God does not instruct us to give a tithe to our pastor or to our church. When the Temple was destroyed under the Roman invasion of Jerusalem (A.D. 70), the Israeli priesthood disappeared. Technically, in order to give a tithe today, you would have to find a Levite, and give him your tithe—and you would have to give him crops and livestock, not money. Unfortunately, some Jews do not even know to which tribe they belong anyway, so even finding a Levite is unlikely!
  3. MOST CHRISTIANS DO NOT HAVE LIVESTOCK AND GRAIN TO OFFER. Today’s Christians have money, but how many of us have goats, sheep, and other types of livestock that we can give to our local church? We do not all have access to wheat, corn, and other grains like Israel did under her agrarian economy. The only thing we have to give to our local church is money, and this is not Biblical tithing! Thus, giving money to a local church has no relation to Israel’s tithe.
  4. ISRAEL’S TEMPLE HAS BEEN DESTROYED FOR 2,000 YEARS. There is no functioning Temple in Jerusalem today, for it was destroyed in A.D. 70! Where would I bring a tithe? Again, God never tells us to bring a tithe to our local church.

Oftentimes, pastors force their members to give tithes by quoting from Malachi 3:8-11. Actually, that is extortion! “This whole nation” in Malachi 3:9 is NOT America. “This whole nation” is a reference to Israel; Malachi is writing to Israel under the Mosaic Law, not the Body of Christ in grace (Malachi 1:1). Malachi chapter 3 has absolutely nothing to do with you today! Pastors are scared if they tell their members there is no such thing as a mandated tithe today, people will no longer support the local church financially. However, they need to leave that in God’s hands: He is the best fundraiser and His grace motivates us to give “cheerfully!” People need to be set free from the legalistic burdensome tithe today!

Strangely, those who uphold the tithe today refuse to adhere to stoning people because when they break the Sabbath: why? According to the Old Testament, a Jew was put to death if he or she worked on the Sabbath—it was Saturday, not Sunday, by the way! The Mosaic Law commanded Sabbath day observance (the Ten Commandments, Exodus 20:8-11). The penalty for gathering a few sticks for firewood on the Sabbath was DEATH BY STONING—and God commanded Israel to stone one particular Jew who infringed the Sabbath Day law (Numbers 15:32-36)! Why do people hang on to the tithe of the Old Testament, but avoid upholding capital punishment as a penalty for the breaking the Sabbath? Why do some uphold the Sabbath Day, but refuse to do Temple worship, or adhere to kosher food laws but deny the physical circumcision. Beats me… I will never know…. Religion never makes sense anyway.

No, tithing is not for us. Paul addressed giving in our dispensation in 2 Corinthians chapters 8, 9, and 10. Thus, God’s grace is not against giving; it is against tithing.

Will God curse us if we give too little or not at all? Will God bless us if we give a lot? God does not deal with us on the basis of performance-based acceptance. We are not Israel. God told Israel in Deuteronomy chapter 28 that if they wanted His blessings that they had to obey all of His laws; they would receive curses if they disobeyed Him. We are under no such system today. We are under grace, not law (Romans 6:14).

God has already given us everything He can give us, in Jesus Christ. Ephesians 1:3: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” We have received those blessings based on what Jesus Christ did, not because of anything we did or because of what we do! Philippians 4:19: “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:32: “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” Now that God has done so much for us, God wants to prove just how much we love Him! Are we going to give of our resources to further His ministry? That is what grace giving is all about!

Also see:
» How do I give under grace?
» Must I observe the Sabbath day?
» Must I be water baptized?