This post comes on the heels of the recent post, Truth about Faith.
Once a friend made this statement – “Whatever must come will come”
This statement echoed the song Que Sera Sera. This post captures my thoughts about the wisdom of this mantra.
This mantra has been operating as a reality check, a filter of sorts, for appreciating the current and forecasted events, many of them promoting fearful uncertainty.
Whether mainstream or alternative, the news is rife with flavors of the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse. This daily inundation of fear and uncertainty poisons the soul.
The mantra of “What will be, will be” or “Whatever must come will come” is not a fatalistic attitude given to despair. Instead, it underpins how I do not drown in earthly preparations (which I still make plans within my means) in light of the foreseeable future. It breaks the vicious cycle of the constant flow of bad news that would otherwise overwhelm me with despair and paralysis. My soul stays afloat amidst the stormy sea of negativity because my HOPE is in God’s faithfulness of His eternal promises.
His promise of my resurrection and His return are the source of HOPE, which motivates me to gradually (day by day) let go of this earthly life, weakening its stranglehold that stems from the demands and expectations of the various roles one has in this life.
This letting go involves the weaning of the fear of events, fear of man, and fear of death. Hope fills the gaping void created by the absence of these fears.
It is a balancing act of sorts, having a heavenward mindset while living in the earthly moment, searching and seeking to experience meaning trying to connect to the heavenward mindset. This process requires the spiritual awakening of the soul.
While each person’s life journey is unique, where comparison is meaningless, the journeys share the common experience expressed in these words – enduring patience.
Faith is not limited to religious persuasions but is universally embraced by man. However, faith’s purpose, meaning, and significance are not universal. This post explores the purpose, meaning, and significance of the Christian faith; The truth about faith.
Imagine the following two private conversations-
“Have faith,” my best friend offers me these consoling words, with a lump forming in her throat while gently brushing my hand at my husband’s funeral.
“Have faith,” the father smiles with encouragement while his eyes convey worry, comforting the family as his wife undergoes a major operation.
These scenes are repeated worldwide, albeit in different ways but centralized on the issue of faith. Regardless of which religion, this kind of faith is directed at something or someone that transcends the earthly realm.
The Bible, especially the New Testament (NT), reveals many nuances concerning the Christian faith. This post will explore the truth about faith to determine if this truth supports the above two imaginary conversations.
Hope, faith, and love are the pillars of Christianity (1Co13:13). Love has greater clarity and a defined focus. 1Co13 is a whole chapter dedicated to what love means to God.
Moreover, the NT’s only Law is to fulfill the commandment of love (Rom13:10), also known as the Law of Christ in Gal6:2.
The Christian faith and hope in the two conversations have an earthly focus. Does the NT truth about faith and hope support an earthly focus?
Spoiler alert – As this post examines the scriptures for the truth about faith, the truth about hope will also be revealed.
Let’s start with two relatively well-known scriptures concerning faith and two lesser-known ones.
2Co5:7 – “We walk by faith and not by sight.”
Heb11:6 –“But without faith, it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
Rom14:23 – “And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.”
1Pet1:7 –“ That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.”
Without going into the context (the context will be explored later), the 4 verses above describe faith as a walk (conduct, living the Christian life) that is absolutely essential to please God. Else it amounts to sin. Furthermore, when this faith is tested, its eternal values increase for the Day of the Lord.
To avoid this post becoming an overwhelming Bible study experience, these 4 verses, contextually (meaning when one read the whole chapter), all share one contextual thing in common. They all share the context that this faith is about the belief in the resurrection of Christ and the believer’s resurrection.
The central focus of the resurrection common to all 4 verses is returning to the roots of Christian salvation, which is found in Rom10:9-10 –
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
The belief or faith that saves is meant to have the singular focus on the resurrection of Christ. These 4 verses reinforce the paramount importance of this faith of the resurrection in the Christian walk on the earth that has eternal significance.
As if God is concerned that the importance of the resurrection escapes the Christian awareness, Paul said this in 2Co13:5, where he urged the believer to self-examine whether one is in faith, living by the power of God as displayed in the resurrection of Christ (2Co13:4). Paul by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit then says this in 2Co13:8 –
“For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth.”
What truth is Paul alluding to? This truth is the truth of the resurrection mentioned a few verses earlier. In other words, paraphrasing 2Co13:8 – to live by the faith in the power of the resurrection is God’s truth concerning the Christian faith.
For those interested in a deeper dive to support the above claim, below explores the supporting context.
2Co5:1-6 shows the context of the walk of faith in 2Co5:7 is an eternal heavenward’s focus of the resurrection vs. the temporary earthly body (2Co5:1-6).
Heb11:16 shows the context of faith that pleased God in Heb11:6 is the faith in the hope of a better heavenly country (Heb11:16) vs. being a stranger and pilgrim on the earth (Heb11:13). Moreover, the reward mentioned in Heb11:6 would likely be referring to the eternal rewards of the out-resurrection of Phil3:10-11 and 1Co3, derived from the good works of gold, silver, and precious stones.
Rom14:8-9 talks about whether the believers live or die, it is done unto Christ who died and rose again. As the believers are not eyewitnesses to the Lord’s death and resurrection, the believers require faith in this regard for the Lord’s death and resurrection to be real for them.
Therefore, Rom14:23’s “whatsoever is not of faith is sin” has contextual support. This faith is the faith in the death and resurrection of Christ that He loved us. Thus when the lesser faith about eating certain foods is disputed, know that FAITH of the Lord’s death and resurrection compels one to respond in love.
1Pet1:3-5 talks about the faith in the living hope of the resurrection. 1Pet1:6 discusses how suffering can be experienced in unspeakable joy because of this hope. Therefore, it stands to reason that the context of the faith tested in 1Pet1:7 is the testing of the faith in the living hope of the resurrection on the Day of the Lord.
It should be more apparent now that Christian hope is the hope of the resurrection and not an earthly hope.
The above narrative offers compelling evidence that the Christian faith in God is not about hoping to be healed, to get a better job, or for a soul mate, any earthly needs-wants.
While these are legitimate earthly need-want, this faith that pleases God of the Christian walk focuses on the heavenward goals, especially the resurrection, and not on earthly need-want.
Self-examination or prove (KJV) is related to the Greek word dokimazo.
It means to test, examine, and scrutinize to recognize as genuine and deemed worthy.
Dokimazo is used in the NT in various contexts.
Inward (self) Proving
1. 2Co13:5, self-examination focuses on examining whether one is in faith, living by the power of God as displayed in the resurrection of Christ (2Co13:4).
This faith of 2Co13:5 is the belief in the hope of this resurrection, our resurrection, especially the 1st resurrection of Rev20:6 that needs to be earned according to Paul in Phil3:10-11.
Paul goes on to frame this faith in the resurrection as the truth in 2Co13:8.
The other inward proving is related to taking the holy communion found in 1Co11:28.
2. The other forms of examining in the NT are no longer, about an inward examination but an outward examination
2.1 Rom12:2, Rom2:18, andv 1Th5:21- Prove what is good to discover and align with God’s will.
2.2 2Co8:8 and Phil1:10 are about proving love and excellence for sincerity, Gal6:4 proving one’s own work (of bearing burdens to fulfill the Law of Christ), 1Jhn4:1 is about proving every spirit relating to false prophets.
Personally, I practice self-examination using a clear and pure conscience to guide me in areas of sincerity, bearing the burdens of Gal6:2 and testing and validating God’s will.
I talk, think and dream about the resurrection daily, so the encouragement to examine one’s faith in the resurrection is moot for me but needful for the body of Christ.
Other forms of self-examination or examinations would be outside the wise counsel of the NT scriptures.
This post is an extension of an earlier post titled “Faith and Work in Harmony” that explored the controversy of Jam2:17, where James indicted the believers that lacked works as having faith that is dead. See the following link for this post-.
The purpose of this reflection is to offer evidence to support the claim, “Once Saved Always Saved.”
Three approaches are adopted to support this claim.
The first approach enhances the clarity between works mentioned in Jam2:17 and the works that lead to soul salvation in 1Pet.
The second approach explores the implications of 1Co5 concerning the Corinthian believer, who is foolishly brave to commit adultery with his stepmother openly.
The third and final approach is to examine Col2:13 and John10:27-29, which offer direct scriptural evidence to support the claim, “Once Saved Always Saved.”
Apostle Peter with a key before St. Peter’s Cathedral, Vatican
First Approach – The Connection between 1Pet and Jam2:17
A more explicit connection between these two verses provides a better foundation to support the conclusion that Jam2:17 was speaking of the faith that saves the soul and does not relate to the salvation of the born again spirit.
1Pet9 states, “obtaining as the outcome (telos – final destination, purpose, goal) of your faith the salvation of your souls.” This faith spoken of here is the means to produce the goal, which is soul salvation.
This faith is the loving faith in the unseen Christ (1Pet1:8) and the living hope of the resurrection (1Pet1:3-5). In the context of 1Pet1, this faith was tested in fiery trials (1Pet1:7) of persecution to validate their faith genuineness as to whether their faith is sufficiently genuine to produce soul salvation, which has nothing to do with spiritual salvation.
Later in 1Pet1:22, Peter reveals this faith’s manifestation that purifies (saves) the soul taking the form of sincere brotherly affection-love with a pure heart. 1Pet2:1 defines this sincerity in negative examples of “laying asideall malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking.”
The rest of 1Pet has a repeated theme that supports the scope of this sincere love. This theme shows believers committing their souls to the will of God the Father (1Pet4:19), enduring temporal suffering (1Pet1:6, 1Pet5:10), as they pour out their lives in sincere love for righteousness sake (1Pet4:14). By doing so, they partake (1Pet4:13) in Christ’s suffering where His suffering is set as an example (2Pet2:21) for believers to emulate in action (1Pet4:2) and attitude (1Pet4:1).
When one can appreciate the arduous journey to produce soul salvation, it makes sense when 1Pet18 says,” If the righteous one is scarcely saved” (NKJV). This “saving” refers to the soul salvation and not the salvation of the born again spirit. Soul salvation is difficult!
For the born again spirit is perfectly saved by God’s the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit (John3:6 and John3:16). The only part played by a man is to believe by confessing (Rom10:9) Christ’s saving work apart from works (Eph2:8-9). The spiritual salvation is secure apart from the man’s works!
1Peter’s works that save the soul and Jam2:17 works share the common elements of suffering and submission to God’s will.
The two examples of works mentioned by James 2 is about Abraham and Rahab. Abraham suffered the loss of Isaac when he offered Isaac to God. However, Abraham submitted to God’s power to resurrect Isaac from the dead (Heb11:19). Rahab suffered the threat of execution for betraying Jericho when she sheltered the two Israelite spies and submitted to God’s manifested power (Joshua 2:9-11).
It stands to reason to assert at this point with greater confidence that the walk of sincere love that suffers while doing good, as the believer’s work is to emulates Christ’s suffering, is the mentioned in Jam2:17.
Aerial drone photo of the iconic archaeological site of Ancient Corinth built in the slopes of Acrocorinth, Peloponnese, Greece
Second Approach – Believer in a Sinful Lifestyle
1Co5:1 is about a man who openly indulged in a sexual relationship with his stepmother. Paul’s solution to this thorny issue of 1Co5:5 – “I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”
It is notable for drawing attention.
The scripture deems the spirit saved despite his brazen behavior to openly promote his sexually immoral relationship with his stepmother and threatening to corrupt the Corinthian Church with this sin(1Co5:6).
The scripture is silent about soul salvation. Since good works (1Pet) and natural decay of the body (2Co4:16-18) produces soul salvation, such practice of sin against the body deserves the bodily death of 1Co3:17
1Co3:17- “If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.”, where the body is destroyed.
Paul did not attempt to cast doubt concerning the believer’s salvation (born again spirit) status. Apostle Paul is faithful to his revelation that such judgment belongs to God (1Co4:4-5).
The above implications support the understanding that sin does not deprive the believer of their place in heaven.
Colossae ancient city in Denizli, Turkey
Third Approach- Col2:13 and John10:27-29
The Bible has three God personas, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
The whole person also has three personas, the Spirit, Soul, and body (1The5:23)
It is an often committed error in the reading of scripture.
The failure to identify the various God personas speaking or spoken.
The failure to identify which part of the man that particular God persona is speaking to.
When the one reads the scripture bearing the above in mind above, scripture becomes relevant and alive. A careful examination of Col2:13 will reveal this benefit.
Col2:13- “And you, being (G5607) dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;
The Greek Interlinear Bible clarifies that the tense of this being (G5607- ōn) is a present participle that indicates the ongoing action in the present.
The next step is to identify where the born again spirit, unsaved soul, decaying body, God the Father, and God the Son fit within the scripture.
And you ( born again spirit), your soul being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh that is in your decaying body, hath he, God the Father, quickened the born again spirit together with him, Jesus, having forgiven you ( born again spirit) all trespasses;
The above holds the perspective of a believer’s walk after the spirit is born again. The born again spirit is immune to the unsaved soul that experiences death when it sins due to the sinful flesh.
God the Father confers immunity by the quickened (syzōopoieō- to make alive with Christ) of born again spirit. For the born again spirit HAS received forgiveness from sins once and for ALL. God has thereby immunized the born again spirit against harmful effects of the soul and body that sins—thus securing the “Once Saved Always Saved” salvation.
John10:27-29 truths echo and resonate with Col2:13. Jesus refers to believers as sheep that are given eternal life in John10:27-29. The sheep secure eternal life by the protection offered by His hands and the hands of His Father, who is greater than Him. The power of God secures the sheep’s salvation once and forever.
While I have attempted to offer systematic reasoning of evidence to support the belief of unshakable eternal salvation, there are always outlier scenarios that reside in the domain of God to determine the authenticity of the believer’s salvation status in the very first place.
Two outlier scenarios come to mind.
The unpardonable sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirt seems to the sword hanging over the believer’s secure salvation. (Mat12:31-32)
The sins of apostasy.
Another post or posts is required to cover the unpardonable sin in detail. For this post, the fact that no other scriptures further warn of this sin suggests that this sin’s applicability does not extend beyond the specific circumstances required for the sin to be relevant. The circumstances were such that Jesus had to be physically present, and Man blasphemes the Holy Spirit operating through Him. Christ’s physical presence with the Holy Spirit in Him are realities not available to Man.
Apostasy in Greek, apostasia, is mentioned twice in the new testament. In 2Th2:3, Paul used apostasia in the anti-christ context, and in Act21:21, Paul’s accusers used apostasia to voice their concerns of forsaking the old covenant traditions. Hence the apostasy is used in a specific context. Scripture DOES NOT support the casualness among Christians to lay this charge against their brethren.
In-summary, It makes little sense to construct barriers to salvation based on these outliers, given the great price paid by our Lord Jesus for humanity’s salvation. Let’s set aside these needless arguments that seek to divide the unity of the faith in the love of Christ.
Those that are adamant about doing so are usurping God’s sovereignty to judge His flock by discriminating their born again spirit genuineness in-place of God the Father.
Faith without works is a dead faith, according to James (Jam2:14-17). This verse is contentious because it challenges the salvation by grace made possible by the death by crucifixion and resurrection of the Lord Jesus (Rom10:9). The inference of a dead faith threatens to negate the faith of the gift of salvation apart from works (Eph2:8-9).
This reflection is to reconcile by harmonizing Jam2:14-17 and Eph2:8-9 to support the view that the faith mentioned in Jam2:17 is different from the faith mentioned in Eph2:8-9.
Often Jam2:17 is interpreted in extreme positions.
The Hyper-Grace or Liberal View
One extreme is occupied by the hyper-grace camp that takes the position to negate this verse due to the perceived threat to spiritual salvation. The proponents support this position by reframing the notion of works (dismissing the obviousness of the practical deeds found in James’s examples in the story of Abraham and Rahab) into belief in the goodness of God. I.e., this work is the work of belief and not action.
The Conservative View
The other extreme is occupied by the conservative camp that believes that the secured salvation by grace is not secure. The absence of faith works that are not dead is evidence of this insecure salvation in one’s life, thereby threatening Christ’s unconditional salvation.
The Harmonized View
It is needful to expand Jam2:17 (NASB) by drawing from insights from 1st Peter, which aligns with the two examples cited by James as examples of faith works that save. 1st Peter is selected because Peter connected between acts of sincere love and salvation of the soul.
Jam2:17- “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.”
Expanding Jam2:17 by defining
1Pet defines the nature of these faith works that save, which aligns with the two examples cited in Jam2.
1Pet defines the object that needs saving.
Items in bold are expanded content.
“Even so Faith, ifthis faithhas no works of sincere love that purifies the soul (1Pet1:22), is dead,being by itself forthe goal of this faith is the salvation of the soul (1Pet1:9).”
Christ’s salvation work of the cross offered man spiritual salvation because the only part of man that was “saved” is the dead spirit that becomes the born again spirit when one accepts Christ. The body that remains entrapped in sinful flesh will decay, leading to death (2Co4:16). The resurrected body preserved in heaven (1Pet1:5) will replace the decaying body. The soul still sins till the day of death of the body. Paul artfully described this sin challenge of the soul and body in Romans 7.
The spiritual salvation of the born again spirit is secured and immune to the effects of the sinful flesh and unsaved soul (Col2:13). Refer to the following post that explores Col2:13 in greater depth.
In summary, Jam2:17 speaks of faith that saves the soul, and Eph2:8-9 speaks of a faith that saves the spirit. The saving of the soul affects the rewards of 1Co3 and the eternal glory of 2Co4:16-18. The saving of the spirit affects the destination of heaven or hell.