THE TREMENDOUS "IF"

THE TREMENDOUS "IF" Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

One of the current glaring departures from the Scripture is the doctrine that the Christian salvation is unconditional. The teaching is that salvation is an act of God unrelated to our behavior. No longer do we have to endure to the end. Grace is a Divine gift, unknown under previous covenants, and our only obligation is to accept it.

This position directly contradicts clear statements of the New Testament.

THE TREMENDOUS "IF"

In order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:4—NIV)

But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. (Galatians 5:18—NIV)

It is being taught today that Divine grace is a sovereign intervention of God that operates independently of a change in the behavior of the recipient. There is a "state of grace" that serves to shield the believer from all judgment—even from the eyes of God. This idea is strongly supportive of the doctrine of "eternal security."

Once an individual professes belief in Christ he enters a state of grace that renders him impervious to any judgment on works of immorality or any other sinful behavior. While the believer ought to try to please Christ by living a moral life, such an effort is unrelated to his salvation. He is saved by grace and grace alone. Whether his behavior is righteous or wicked has no bearing on his salvation.

If we know the Lord at all we realize this concept of salvation is as removed from God's intention under the new covenant as it is possible to be.

I wonder sometimes where the "state of grace" concept originated, for it certainly leaves out most of the text of the New Testament. It must be a deduction from several verses taken out of context.

When one reads the New Testament, especially the Epistles, it is clear that righteous behavior is the only valid evidence of salvation. Faith apart from works of righteousness is dead.

Perhaps there is a spiritual blindness on us that prevents us from perceiving what was written by the Apostles of Christ.

I suppose if theologians wish to play around with the idea of an impervious state of grace they are free to do so. The only problem is, God is upset because His commandments are not being kept, the numerous commandments found in the New Testament. Because of this the sword of Divine judgment is hanging over the United States of America and several other countries.

The reason many believers are not keeping the commandments of the New Testament is they have been taught they will go to Heaven by grace, and grace alone. If you take this doctrine and accompany it with the saturation of demons of lust and violence that is true of America today, then stir in a "rapture" that is just about to transport all believers to Paradise regardless of their moral state, you are going to get one result: churchgoers who are unable to resist the pressures of sexual lust, pornography, rage, covetousness, and stealing.

In fact, these pressures are going to increase in the United States until it will be impossible for believers to resist temptation. If you and I do not keep the word of Christ's patience today we will not be guarded during the hour of temptation on the horizon.

Now let us take a hard look at our opening Scriptures.

In order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:4—NIV)

But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. (Galatians 5:18—NIV)

Both of them are telling us that our freedom from the condemnation of the Law of Moses depends on our being led by the Spirit.

Look at these two passages carefully

The righteous requirements of the Law are fully met in us who do not live according to our fleshly nature but according to the Spirit.

We are not under the Law of Moses if we are led by the Spirit of God.

Is this how you read the passages?

If so, can you see that the teaching we are free from the condemnation of the Law regardless of how we live is not scriptural?

It is taught today that we are free from condemnation. Period. This is the grace of God—freedom from the condemnation of the Law of Moses. There is absolutely nothing we are to do.

There is absolutely no condition. Salvation is by grace alone.

Does God contradict His own Word? Is this the truth of God? It most certainly is not. It is a massive delusion. The Christian teaching of today is destructively erroneous. There is no such thing as a "state of grace." There is grace, but to live in it we have to turn away from the passions and appetites of our flesh and follow the Spirit of God.

As long as we are living in our fleshly nature we are under the condemnation of the Law of Moses. Since it appears most American Christians are living in their fleshly nature, we can say that most American Christians are under Divine condemnation.

I don't care how we feel, what joy and peace we think we have, the Scripture is never wrong. Satan is well able to emulate the Holy Spirit. Maybe God has forgiven our past ignorance, but from now on we better find out what the Scripture says and do it.

Scholars, teachers, evangelists, pastors, who say grace is unconditional are destroying the moral character of the Christian people. Our nation is suffering as a result.

We are not without condemnation, no matter how long we think we have been a Christian, unless we are living in the Spirit of God.

Look at the following:

For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. (Romans 8:13,14—NIV)

First of all, is the Apostle Paul addressing Christians?

He must be. How could an unsaved individual put to death his sins by the Spirit of God?

What does Paul say? He says if a Christian lives according to his sinful nature he will die.

How will he die? He will die spiritually. He will have no inner spiritual life, no "oil," when the Lord appears. He will not be permitted to enter the the wedding. The door will be shut in his face. If we have no life within us to raise us, then we will not be raised. It is as simple as this.

Romans 8:13,14 reveals beyond all doubt that the concept of a state of impervious grace has nothing to do with the New Testament. It is a deduction made by theologians from a few verses.

What does a Christian have to do if he is to continue in eternal life? He must put to death through the Spirit the appetites and passions of his fleshly nature.

Is this what Romans 8:13 states?

Is Romans 8:13 true as it stands? Or is it true that the Christian will live even though he does not put to death through the Spirit the appetites and passions of his fleshly nature?

What if the individual has made a profession of belief in Christ, and then spends most of his time eating, sleeping, playing, working, and reproducing? He makes no real effort to touch God in prayer each day, to meditate in the Word, to gather with fervent disciples, to offer his body a living sacrifice to God? Will he die spiritually after having "accepted Christ"?

Even though Paul says he will die if he does not live in the Spirit, will he still be saved by an impervious "state of grace" that goes beyond the teaching of the Apostle?

If your answer is yes, I suggest you cease reading this essay and turn your attention to something more enjoyable to you. I base all of my teaching on the written Word, and when we maintain a position in clear opposition to the Word I have no more to say.

Again:

For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. (Romans 8:13,14—NIV)

How can we know we are living in the Spirit and being led by the Spirit?

If we are living in the Spirit the Spirit is leading us to put to death the impulses of our sinful nature. If we are not being led to put to death the impulses of our sinful nature, then you can be pretty sure we are not being led by the Spirit of God.

Only those believers who are open to the Lord, who are confessing their sins and turning away from them by the Lord's help, are living in eternal life. The remainder may be correctly oriented to the program of salvation but they are not entering eternal life. Eternal life is not a legal state in which we hope to have eternal existence. Eternal life is the Life of God Himself. God's Life is holy—actually holy. Let no person imagine he can live in God's holy Life and continue to sin because of an impervious state of grace. This is totally incorrect, totally unscriptural.

It seems the Lord God gave to Paul, and to no one else, the understanding of the transition from the Law of Moses to the grace and truth of Jesus Christ.

We can tell from Paul's writings, particularly in Romans and Galatians, that Paul was under continual pressure from those who were insisting that to be saved the people had to receive Jesus as Christ and also keep parts or all of the Law, particularly circumcision.

This us why Paul stated so many times that we are saved by grace and not by works, meaning not by the works of the Law of Moses.

As Paul explained in the seventh chapter of the Book of Romans, the Law has authority over an individual as long as he or she is alive. Only death can free us from the authority of the Law.

We make the transition from Moses to Christ by dying. There is no other way.

Jesus Christ kept the Law of Moses perfectly and then died on the cross. When we are willing to enter the death of Christ on the cross, the righteousness that comes from perfect obedience to the Law of Moses is imputed to us; the righteous requirement of the Law is ascribed to us.

In order to remain without condemnation we must count ourselves as dead with Jesus and alive with Jesus. We must press into Jesus each day. The Holy Spirit helps us do this. As we press into Jesus the sins of our flesh come up for judgment. As the Spirit brings our sins to our attention we are to confess them and turn away from them. As long as we thus follow the Spirit of God, living in God's eternal Life, we are free from the condemnation of the Law of Moses.

But if we do not press into Jesus each day, if we do not live in the holy Life of God, continuing to spend our time and energy on eating, sleeping, working, playing, reproducing, yielding at times to sexual lust, to violence, to covetousness, to slander and gossip, to witchcraft, in other words behaving as an average American Christian, then we are not dead with Christ on the cross. We are not raised with Him into newness of life. We are not a new creation.

What then?

The Law of Moses condemns us. There is no impervious state of grace shielding us from Divine judgment, from the eyes of God. We are not judging ourselves and so God judges us. When God judges us we suffer. If the suffering does not turn us to God, then any number of things can transpire, including sickness or even premature death. We can go so far as to get our name blotted from the Book of Life even though current Christian teaching claims this is impossible.

He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. (Revelation 3:5—NIV)

Please do not wait until you die to find out if I know what I am talking about.

As we follow the Holy Spirit He leads us to confess and turn away from our sin and to keep the commandments of Christ and His Apostles. The New Testament, beginning with the Gospels, is full of commandments, some given by Christ in the Gospels and some given by Christ through His Apostles in the Epistles. There are numerous things we are to do, and God helps us do them when we come boldly before His Throne to gain His assistance.

If we faithfully follow the Spirit of God in confessing and turning away from our sins, and in keeping the commandments of Christ and His Apostles, the atoning blood of Jesus keeps us free from condemnation. But if we do not faithfully follow the Spirit of God in confessing and turning away from our sins, do not keep the commandments of Christ and His Apostles, then the atoning blood of Jesus does not keep us free from condemnation. Rather we are under Divine condemnation and can expect severe chastening.

This is what the Bible teaches. I have no idea how the "state of grace" doctrine got started. But I am here to tell you that if you do not live close to Jesus, if you do not confess your sins and turn away from them with His help, do not grow each day in the commandments of Christ and His Apostles, there is no state of grace that can keep you from condemnation. The New Testament condemns you.

I am not bringing you under condemnation but I hope I am bringing you under conviction. If you will turn to the Lord with all your heart He will prepare you to stand during the age of moral horrors that is at hand. If you do not turn to the Lord with all your heart, do not press into Him, do not pray for strength to keep His commandments, and those of His Apostles, then He will not keep you during the age of moral horrors. You have not kept your part of the covenant.

The things I am writing to you are so obvious to anyone who knows the New Testament that to repeat them seems superfluous. But I know the lie of the "state of grace" has been taught for hundreds of years and is deeply rooted in the thinking of Christian people. They did not get this lie from the Bible but from the traditions of men. If we are wise we will search the New Testament for ourselves. The Lord Jesus is not going to excuse us in that Day because we believed a religious leader who taught us error.

Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. (I Corinthians 15:1,2—NIV)

I think by holding "firmly to the word" Paul means more than holding in the mind a theological position. In many verses Paul told us to do certain things, and "holding firmly to the word" would certainly include obeying what he said to the churches.

For example:

Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God—I say this to your shame. (I Corinthians 15:34—NIV)

I really appreciate this verse because it cuts through all the unscriptural advice we hear about how we have to wait until Christ lives the life through us, or we are saved by identification with Christ, or Jesus did it all, or whatever other errors are heaped on errors until the mind staggers under the misinformation and confusion.

"Come back to your sense as you ought," Paul would say to us today. "Stop your sinning! Some people are ignorant of God because of your sinful behavior. Shame on you!"

"Paul did say this" the Christian of today will exclaim, "but this doesn't mean the Corinthian believers weren't saved. They ought to do what Paul says, but even if they don't they still are saved by grace.

Oh yes?

Compare this passage with his opening comments.

Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. (I Corinthians 15:1,2—NIV)

I don't think it is stretching a point to interpret Paul as saying "If you don't stop sinning you are not obeying the Gospel. You are not holding firmly to the word I preached to you. You are not saved. You have believed in vain."

Is it actually possible to believe in vain? To believe in vain?

Are the Christian scholars of our day claiming it is impossible to believe in Christ in vain? Who are we to believe, today's theologians or the Apostle Paul?

Jude does not come to the rescue of those who teach "once saved always saved."

Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe. (Jude 1:5—NIV)

Why would the Holy Spirit through Jude warn the Church that it was possible to be brought out of Egypt under the sovereign hand of God, beyond doubt a type of salvation, and then be destroyed by the Lord, if it were not possible to be saved and then be lost to the purposes of God?

Someone will object, "At first they believed and then they didn't believe any longer."

This is true. Even so, the position held today is that once you make a profession of belief you will go to Heaven whether you disbelieve after that or not, so deeply entrenched is this deception in the Christian mind. There is nothing you can do to penetrate the impervious "state of grace."

However, there is more to the destruction of the Israelites than the fact that they did not believe any longer. The Israelites were not destroyed by the Lord just because they ceased believing mentally in the things God had said. They were destroyed because of actions they took that stemmed from their unbelief, such as grumbling, threatening to stone Moses, and begging to return to Egypt.

Also, if one will read the Book of Jude it can be seen easily that Jude is not referring to people who ceased believing in a theological position but believers who were behaving in a wicked manner.

We are saved, as Jesus said, if we endure to the end. I possess a popular Evangelical edition of the Bible. The footnotes state we are not saved by enduring to the end but by a sovereign action of God. Thus the editors of this well known edition are denying the words of the Son of God.

The faith that saves us and by which the righteous live is a pressing forward into God, in particular in obedience to the revealed will of God.

Look at the introduction to the "faith chapter" of the Book of Hebrews, the chapter which is one long definition of "the just shall live by faith."

But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him." But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved. (Hebrews 10:38,39—NIV)

Paul said we are free from condemnation if we choose to live in the Spirit of God, that is, to live by faith. This is a tremendous "if"! Do you agree?

"My righteous one will live by faith." This means the righteous individual lives as did the patriarchs of the following chapter. They believed God. Whether we are speaking of Noah, Abraham, or Moses, they obeyed God. They were obedient to the spirit of God.

"But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed." Can we as a believer in Christ shrink back from the demands of the Spirit, choosing to walk in the ways of the world, and be destroyed? Jude says we can. The writer of Hebrews says we can.

Our Lord said no person that puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the Kingdom of God. Is this true?

Don't you like the expression "shrink back"? This implies the true walk of faith is one of pressing forward against unpleasant pressure. We have the choice of pressing forward or shrinking back. Obviously we are not speaking here of a head knowledge of theology, of mental assent to the plan of salvation, but of a daily pushing ahead, overcoming through Christ the evil of the day.

To shrink back in the Christian pilgrimage is to invite destruction. What happened to the impervious "state of grace" in this context? What planet did this wild doctrine come from?

"Those who believe and are saved." Again, we are referring to the next chapter, Chapter Eleven.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1—NIV)

The heroes of faith of the eleventh chapter were sure of what they hoped for and certain of what they could not see. This kind of faith is living, vital, always seeking the Lord. It is not the dead faith of belief in a theological position.

Their certainty was expressed in their behavior.

By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice.

By faith Enoch walked with God.

By faith Noah built an ark.

By faith Abraham left Ur of the Chaldees, not knowing where he was going.

By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau.

By faith Joseph gave instructions about his bones.

By faith Moses' parents hid him for three months.

And so on and on and on.

When the Spirit of God defines "the just shall live by faith" He uses people from the Old Testament (an interesting fact by itself) and tells what they did based on what they believed. If we are certain of things hoped for we are going to act. Otherwise what we have is not Bible faith at all but the deadness of mental belief. There is no salvation in mental belief, in any sovereign, abstract "state of grace" that exists apart from our behavior, apart from our moral transformation.

Such a state of grace may exist in the philosophy of Gnosticism but it is not found in the Old Testament or the New Testament.

We are in terrible deception today, a delusion spread throughout the ranks of Christians wherever the Gospel is preached in the world. We need to wake up and quit our sinning, as Paul says. And, as Paul stated, many people of the world are ignorant of God because of the behavior of the Christians. Many people in America are cynical concerning the Christian Gospel because of the behavior of the Christians.

We may think God overlooks our behavior because we are in an impervious state of grace and is about to whisk us out of here and leave the world to Antichrist. This is not true. The fact is, judgment has begun in the house of God and none of us is exempt! And none of us is going to fly away in any mythological "rapture."

The Lord is judging His people today. Has He come by your house yet? He will. You can count on it. When He does, ask Him to give you a report card. Find out what He wants changed in you, and then ask His help so you can get rid of your worldliness, lust, and self-will.

Don't wait until God has to destroy you in order to save you. Do you want to enter the Kingdom of God as a naked spirit, shorn of all inheritance? This may happen if you do not get down to business with God.

If I am hearing correctly from the Lord, He is saying He is displeased because we in America are not keeping His commandments. Maybe I'm missing something but the Lord is not speaking to me of any "state of grace." We are not keeping His commandments in this country because we have had unscriptural teaching. God is not going to excuse us because we have had bad teaching. He requires of us that we have enough sense to know Christ is not the Divine excuse for our worldliness, lust, and self-will. Our conscience ought to tell us better than this!

Where is our common sense that we would believe all we have to do is take the four steps of salvation and then we are saved forever and ever? Can't we read the New Testament?

Today it is back to the Bible, especially the New Testament. There we have numerous commandments, with the promise that if we, with the Lord's help, obey these commandments, Christ will be formed in us. When Christ, the New Covenant, is formed in us, we will not sin but will please God by our new nature. It is just as simple as this.

We see, therefore, there is a tremendous "if" associated with the Christian salvation. If we do what the Lord and His Apostles commanded, not starting out and then quitting, not becoming discouraged and turning away from the Lord, we will come to the hour when we stand before the Lord Jesus and hear His "Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter the joy of your Lord. I had to overcome evil while on the earth and now you, through faith in My power and wisdom, also were able to overcome the evil that came against you.

"All the promises to the overcomer are yours. You have inherited all things. You have exercised faith in the faithfulness of God and thus were able to escape the pollution that is in the world through lust."

But if we are not faithful to Jesus, if we do not follow His teachings and those of His Apostles but continue to live in our sinful nature, we have no basis on which to anticipate joy when we stand before Jesus. Instead we will hear, "Don't tell me about how you accepted Me or spoke in tongues or anything else. You did not obey God. You are a worker of wickedness. Get away from Me!"

Is this what you want to hear?

"Oh Brother Thompson, our sweet Jesus would never talk to anyone like that!"

Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

Will you be one of those "many" who prophesied in the name of Jesus and then were driven from His Presence? You would think after having prophesied, driven out demons, performed many miracles, all in the name of Jesus, they would have had a warm welcome. What happened to their "state of grace"?

"His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so when I returned I would have received it back with interest. Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 25:26-30—NIV)

Please note that the parable of the talents is not speaking of the people of the world but of the Lord's servants. Whatever Jesus has given you, from the gift of salvation forward, constitute your talents. If you do not spend them in the business of the Kingdom you are facing a very harsh future. No state of grace will save you then.

The "ifs" in the plan of salvation are tremendous. We are saved if we keep in mind what we have been taught, paying diligent attention to the words of Christ and His Apostles.

But if we choose instead to live as so many American believers do, in the lukewarmness of casual church-going, then there is no guarantee we will receive a warm welcome in Heaven when we die.

And no "state of grace" is found in the New Testament that nullifies the words of Jesus Christ and His Apostles.