IS THE CHRISTIAN SALVATION CONDITIONAL? (EXCERPT OF IT IS TIME FOR A REFORMATION OF CHRISTIAN THINKING)
From: It Is Time for a Reformation of Christian Thinking
Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
How many Christian believers are living careless lives, are not forsaking the world, not laying down their life, not taking up their cross, not following Jesus with their whole heart and mind, because there has been implanted in them the idea that no matter what they do they will go to Paradise when they die? There is a multitude of such misinformed believers. Through their sin and disobedience the Christians are destroying their own resurrection.
The blame lies at the door of those who, in spite of the many statements of the New Testament to the contrary, teach that salvation is unconditional with respect to the behavior of the individual.
The truth is, each Christian is permitted to remain in Christ on the condition he bear the fruit of righteous conduct. If he does not bear the fruit of Christ-likeness, God shall remove him from the Vine, from Christ. Our salvation indeed is conditional. Each of us shall appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ so his behavior in the world may be revealed and evaluated. We will be saved if we put our trust in the Lord Jesus, looking continually to Him, enduring faithfully throughout the many tribulations and testings that come upon us during our pilgrimage.
IS THE CHRISTIAN SALVATION CONDITIONAL?
While reviewing the footnotes of a Christian edition of the Scriptures, an edition that would be accepted by those who are fundamental and evangelical in their convictions, we came across two items of concern to us. They appear to contradict the express teachings of the Word of God.
These contradictions do not have to do with subtle points of theology, such as the threeness-oneness of the Godhead. If they did they would not cause us concern. No doubt some of the aspects of God will not be understood by us for many millennia to come.
Rather, these are contradictions of basic teachings of the Scriptures. The topic we are considering is the conditional nature of salvation.
The first of these statements, from the footnotes explaining Ephesians 2:8, is, salvation is unconditional. The grace of God is unconditional.
The Lord Jesus said, “but he that endureth to the end shall be saved” (Matthew 10:22). The footnotes of this popular edition claim (if we are understanding them correctly) that we are not saved on the condition we endure to the end but by an abstract, unconditional, eternal “grace” of God. Here is a denial of the written Word of God.
Are the footnotes reflecting that a period of apostasy has crept in on us?
Christian teachers answer by claiming that the four Gospel accounts do not apply to Christians, only to the Jews. Do such teachers have any idea of the ramifications of such a position? This would mean that the Sermon on the Mount, one of the historic possessions of the Christian Church, never has really applied to the Church. This would mean that the sayings of the Lord Jesus, which all true Christians treasure, are not for us but for the Jews.
Here is a grievous position. When the Lord said, “Abide in me,” was He speaking to the Jews only? We personally could never accept that the Words of the Lord in the Gospels do not apply to Christian people.
It appears that the errors in theology prevalent today could be recognized easily by an alert high-school student. Since Christian scholars are intelligent and devout people, it must be true they are interpreting the Scriptures from an erroneous framework of understanding. They can perceive passages of Scripture only in terms of a manmade framework. They contradict the Scriptures and for some reason cannot see the discrepancies.
Let us consider the idea that salvation by grace is unconditional, meaning, as the writer explains, that our behavior subsequent to our profession of faith in Christ cannot damage our relationship to God.
There are several passages of Scripture that proclaim the contrary.
Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away:… (John 15:2)
The above passage is a clear statement that salvation, which has to do with our abiding in Jesus, depends on whether or not we bear fruit. Yet today’s scholars claim that salvation is unconditional. The Scriptures teach that salvation is conditional. The scholars state that salvation is unconditional. It is time for a reformation of our thinking.
A branch in Christ is a Christian.
Each Christian is permitted to remain in Christ on the condition he or she bear the fruit of righteous conduct. If he does not bear the fruit of Christ-likeness God shall remove him from the Vine, from Christ. This concept is reinforced by verse six of the fifteenth chapter of John.
It seems to us that an intelligent person, whose perception had not been colored by an outside framework of understanding would interpret John 15:2,6 to mean that Christians can remain in Christ on the condition that they bear fruit.
But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. (Hebrews 3:6; and again in verse fourteen)
We are made partakers of Christ on the condition we hold fast to the hope of salvation or, as Jesus expressed it, if we “endure” to the end. Yet, our popular Christian edition claims in effect that this is not true.
The written Word of almighty God is not true?
I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not. (Jude 1:5)
“Having saved the people… afterward destroyed them.”
Does this biblical type apply to Christians? If not, why did Jude take the trouble to put us “in remembrance”? Would not an unbiased reader conclude the Word of God is warning us that we must endure to the end if we would accomplish the will of God in our life?
The errors being set forth today do not have to do with subtle points of theology, the domain of professors and scholars. They are errors concerning the basic facts of our redemption.
The second item is found in the footnotes that comment on Hebrews 6:4-8. The footnotes contend that this passage is not referring to Christians who have neglected their salvation (which is one of the main exhortations of the Book of Hebrews—2:3) but to religious professors of faith in Christ who never have possessed eternal life. They have been Christians in outward show only.
From what could such hypocrites (according to the writer of the footnotes) “fall away,” seeing they never had possessed salvation?
Here are the scriptural statements describing the “religious professors” whose experience, according to the footnotes, went no deeper than the external trappings of religious forms:
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, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, (Hebrews 6:4,5)
Let us examine carefully the criteria the writer of the footnotes must take into account when determining that these believers never have possessed eternal life but have been professors of religion whose Christianity consisted only of an outward show of formalities:
- “Were once enlightened.”
- “Have tasted of the heavenly gift.”
- “Were made partakers of the Holy Ghost.”
- “Have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come.”
These are the facts the commentator must consider when making his judgment that these backsliders never have possessed eternal life but have been Christians in external appearance only.
We would ask: What criteria does our commentator employ when deciding who is a genuine Christian? Is it some form of works? If it is righteous behavior that identifies a true believer, then our argument in the present article is shown to have merit.
Or is it a period of time? If so, how long must an individual partake of the Holy Spirit and taste the Word of God before he no longer is a mere professor?
If the criteria given in this passage are not an indication of true salvation, how, then, can any of us know if he is saved?
Why cannot an able scholar, as well as the devout readers of this edition, perceive the obvious discrepancy here? Is it because the framework of understanding Christians currently are employing will not permit the Word of God to mean what it says?
The reason we will not permit the Word of God to mean what it says is that the spirit of Satan is in us. Satan is determined that neither he nor anyone else has any reason to fear God; that a day of reckoning must never come no matter how badly anyone behaves.
Some of today’s theologians are misinterpreting the message of the Book of Hebrews. In their attempt to prove salvation is unconditional, that there is nothing a believer can do which will place his salvation in jeopardy, they are wrenching the Scriptures so they will mean what they want them to mean.
How many Christian believers are living careless lives, are not forsaking the world, not laying down their life, not taking up their cross, not following Jesus with their whole heart and mind, because there has been implanted in them the idea that no matter what they do they will go to Paradise when they die?
The number is legion. Through their sin and disobedience the Christians are destroying their own resurrection. The blame lies at the door of those who, in spite of the assertions of the New Testament, teach that salvation is unconditional.
It is our belief that the sinning believers and their teachers will stand together at the Judgment Seat of Christ. They will be rewarded together according to their conduct in the flesh. The watchmen did not sound the alarm. The blood of the guilty will be required at their hands.
Our salvation indeed is conditional. Both rewards and punishments shall be administered at the Judgment Seat of Christ, just as the Scriptures declare.
Contemporary Christianity is so weak in Kingdom righteousness and power it is unable to check the rush of civilization into the arms of Antichrist. The Christian answer to this lack of power appears to be, “Any moment now we all shall be caught away to a comfortable home in Paradise, so why should we be overly concerned about what takes place in the world?”
Christ taught that the saints are the light of the world, not of Heaven. When the Lord returns to earth we shall return with Him. Then the world will be our home. Our home is where Jesus is.
Each of us shall appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ so his behavior in the world may be revealed and evaluated. We will be saved if we put our trust in the Lord Jesus, looking continually to Him, enduring faithfully throughout the many tribulations and testings that come upon us during our pilgrimage.
(“Is the Christian Salvation Conditional?”, 3464-1)