The Present Tense of Salvation

The Present Tense of Salvation

When you talk to people about their salvation, do they speak in the past tense or the present tense?  From my personal experience, I find that people most often refer to an event that happened in the past without focusing on the present reality of their salvation.  It’s a common thing here in the south.  I suspect it’s common in most places.  When you ask a person if they are saved, they will often respond by saying, “Yes sir, I did that when I was 7 years old.”  Others will commonly refer to their salvation by using language such as, “I was saved when I was 10 years old at Vacation Bible School.”

That’s nice, but what about now?  Are you being saved today?  If you were to ask someone that question, they would likely be confused.  Being saved, what does that mean?  However, that is exactly what Paul said to the church at Corinth in the first two verses of chapter fifteen.

1 Corinthians 15:1-2 – Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, [2] and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

The choice of vocabulary by Paul is interesting.  In verse 2, he talked about “being saved.”  That verb is in the present tense rather than the past tense.  His focus was on the present reality rather than the past event.  Not long ago, I was preaching a series of sermons from 1 Corinthians 15 and was taken captive by these two short verses while attempting to read past them quickly to get to verses 3-4.  My error on that day was a common mistake of all Christians as we read the Bible.  I’m convinced that much truth falls through the cracks as we breeze past weighty verses in our attempt to complete our reading for the day.  I almost missed these verses and the grand truths that they hold.  Below you will see three important truths related to the present tense state of salvation that we must not forget as we continue to press on toward eternity.

1.  The present tense salvation validates the past tense event

Each day our lives should be marked with a lasting change and commitment to follow Christ.  If we are still standing firm in the gospel and show ourselves to be humble servants of our King, we can be assured that our past event was legitimate.  We cannot afford to play the fool’s game of trusting in our prayer (in the past) if our lives (in the present) don’t demonstrate a commitment to follow Christ each day.  How many people do we know who have “prayed a prayer” and been baptized, but have walked away from the church of Jesus Christ?  Their lives show no submission to Christ.  Their lives are summed up in following self and satisfying their own flesh.  How many of those people are clinging to their past tense event to calm their troubled soul?  Paul did not give any “wiggle room” in this area.  He said to the church at Corinth, “and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.”  The key is the “if” clause.  In other words, they had no reason for assurance in their past profession if their present life was not rooted and grounded in the faith.

2.  The present tense salvation provides hope that overcomes doubt

If a Christian lives long enough, he or she will eventually have some form of doubt concerning their faith.  That could be as a result of sin in their life or as a result of a genuine spiritual attack from Satan.  The best way to experience victory over such doubts and to conquer fears is by examining the reality of a present tense salvation.  In other words, if you find yourself going through such valleys, you can be delivered from the dungeon of doubting castle (to use a line from Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress) by examining yourself and seeing that you are in the faith.  This proof shines brightly from a life of consistent gospel embracing, Bible believing, sin fighting, faith living, Jesus following perseverance.  Notice that I didn’t say a perfect life.  It’s impossible to achieve sinless perfection in this life, but we are to be striving to live a life of holiness and submission to Christ.

3.  The present tense salvation is where Jesus, Paul, and James all unite

The present tense salvation is something Paul taught and emphasized in 1 Corinthians 15:1-2 and alludes to in other places such as 2 Corinthians 5:17.  Jesus taught this principle too as He made massive statements of Christian truth such as, “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).  The emphasis is upon a continual life of submission and obedience.  As we read the New Testament, we are reminded of the words of James, the half brother of Jesus.  James made an emphatic statement that should ring in our ears.  In James 2:20 he writes, “faith without works is dead.”  How does that square with Paul who stated in Ephesians 2:8-9 that a person is saved by faith and not as a result of works?  The words of James, Jesus, and Paul are all united in the reality of a present tense salvation of perseverance that validates the past tense event.  In other words, if a person is persevering in the life of faith and keeping the commandments of Jesus – that individual can rest in the assurance of their salvation.  Faith produces works, but works cannot produce faith.  The essence of obeying Jesus and working for God find their source in saving faith.

John Piper has stated, “It is true that God will never forsake His own children. But the proof that we are His children is that He works in us the vigilance not to forsake Him. God’s not forsaking us is the work He does in us to keep us from forsaking Him (Philippians 2:12-13).1

The danger of those who live in the past tense salvific event rather than a present tense persevering life of faith is that they likely find themselves clinging to that event as their clincher in salvation.  We have all met people who are living worldly and carnal lives apart from the church of Jesus Christ while claiming to embrace a doctrine titled, “once saved always saved.”  The problem with such statements is that it completely ignores the present tense reality of salvation that Jesus, James, and Paul all taught.

There is nothing wrong with chronicling the lives of children, writing their spiritual birthday in their Bible, or even talking about what a special day it was when they trusted Christ for salvation and followed in believer’s baptism.  The problem arises when we emphasize everything about our salvation on a calendar date.  It’s dangerous for a person to cling to a date as the proof of their salvation.  Everyday we should have new evidences and markers that identify us with Christ.  If Jesus became our Lord in the past, He remains the Lord today.  Our lives will demonstrate that truth each day.

Rather than stepping off into eternity clinging onto a calendar date or event, let us finish our course singing, “Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to thy cross I cling.”  For those of us who have been saved, we know that we were once saved (in the past) from the penalty of sin.  We are being saved (presently) from the power of sin.  One day in eternity (future event), we will be saved from the presence of sin.  We have been saved, we are currently being saved, and we will be saved in the future.  We were justified in the past.  We are being sanctified in the present.  One day we will be glorified in the future.  If we have been saved in the past and we have assurance that we will be saved in the future, our present lifestyle should provide sure evidence of a life yielded to Christ.

Paul Washer has written, “Let the struggling believer be comforted; let the apathetic church member be warned. The great evidence of true conversion is God’s ongoing work of sanctification in our lives.”2

Soli Deo Gloria,

Pastor Josh Buice

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

1.  John Piper – “When Is It Dangerous to Look at Jesus?” 

2.  Paul Washer, The Gospel Call & True Conversion, 188.

Butchered Bible – Revelation 3:5-6

Butchered Bible – Revelation 3:5-6

The Thursday series on “Butchered Bible Verses” continues today with Revelation 3:5-6.  One of the reasons for this blog series is that as a pastor, I am constantly reminded that people use Bible verses to further their agenda rather than seeking to study it within its proper context.  It may be an agenda to sin or a doctrinal agenda that they are unwilling to part from, but in the end, they have misquoted and misinterpreted the Word of God.  That is extremely dangerous.

Today’s topic is based on the doctrine of “Perseverance of the saints.”  Is it possible to lose your salvation?  Is it possible to be justified by God and then condemned later through some sin you commit?  If the “once saved, always saved” view is correct, why does the Bible teach that we must “strive to enter God’s rest” – Hebrews 4:11?   If all true believers always persevere to the end in the faith – why does the Bible suggest that God will not erase our names from the book of life?  Did some people have their names erased from the book of life?

Butchered Text

Revelation 3:5-6 – The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. [6] He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

Explanation of how this text is misused

Many people who reject the doctrine of perseverance will use Revelation 3:5-6 as a means of suggesting that it is possible to fall from grace.  They will point to the line that says, “I will never blot his name out of the book of life” and say that it’s proof positive that God will not blot out THOSE people, but it’s apparent that SOMEONE is being blotted out of the book of life.  Is that really what this text teaches?

Explanation of the text

Revelation 3:1-6 is devoted to the letter sent to the church at Sardis by Jesus Christ.  Sardis was a city full of pagan gods and sinful living.  In the middle of this city, God had raised up a church.  Over time, the church became sick and full of sin.  The people of the church had gone back to the ways of the world and it was a very serious thing that was addressed by Jesus Himself.  The letter received by the church at Sardis was a serious rebuke and in that rebuke we see the verses of warning and encouragement for the true believers (5-6).

When Jesus rebuked Sardis, He provided a warning and encouragement at the same time for the genuine believers.  The warning was found in the condition, “The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments.”  The point is clear – if you conquer – if you continue to the end – if you overcome the sinful tide of Sardis – you will be given the white garments and you will have the promise of not having your name blotted out of the book of life.  As always, when these words were heard, they would have been heard with a warning!  I can’t fall away and I must continue in the faith and strive toward the finish line of faith because if I fail – I forfeit this promise.

The encouragement is found in the reward.  The finish line provides rest from running and striving.  The white garments symbolize the purity of Jesus Christ Himself and would have made a huge impact on the believers in Sardis since their city was full of wool dying trade.  True believers have their name in the book of life – and it will NEVER be removed.  That would have served as a tremendous encouragement to the believer in Sardis, but it would not have served as a license to sin.  Remember, many professing believers were living in sin, so these words would have encouraged but also warned against such lifestyle.

Blotting Out Names?

If the believers of Sardis had the promise of their name remaining in the book of life, does that mean that others in Sardis had their names removed?  In order to consider this question, we must interpret the text within the context, which we have laid the ground work above.  We must also interpret this text by other relevant texts within the Scripture – especially within the book of Revelation.

Q:  When was our name written down in the book of life?

A:  Before the foundation of the world.

Revelation 17:8 – The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to rise from the bottomless pit and go to destruction. And the dwellers on earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will marvel to see the beast, because it was and is not and is to come.

Revelation 13:8 – and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.

When God the Father elected (chose) a people unto Himself from every kindred, tongue, tribe, and nation on planet earth – that process took place before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:3-6).  That was a choice the Father made based on His will and for His glory rather than a decision based on foreseen faith or obedience.  All of humanity is under the bondage of sin and unable to come to God apart from a work of grace.  That work started in the plan of God before the foundation of the world.  It was there that He chose people and penned their names down in the book of life.

Based on Revelation 17:8 and 13:8, it’s clear that those who have their name written down in the book of life will never fall away!  So, if a person has their name written down – it will never be blotted out.  That’s proof that names are not written down and later blotted out.  Those people in Sardis and people that we know of in our present day who have claimed the name of Christ and then walked away from the faith should never be seen as genuine believers who lost their salvation.  They should be viewed as genuine unbelievers who never came to faith in the first place.  1 John 2:19 says, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.”

John 10:28-29 reminds us of the fact that we have ultimate security in the salvation that our God has provided us.  John 6:37 tells us that all that the Father has given the Son will come to the Son, but that the Son will never cast one away.  The ultimate section of verses that deal with this truth is found in Romans 8:28-30.  If a person has been foreknown (foreloved) by God – they have also been predestined.  If they have been predestined they have been called.  If they have been called, they have also been justified.  If they have been justified, they HAVE BEEN glorified.  Although the future state of glorification has not yet occurred, Paul referenced it in the past tense as if to show that it was a guaranteed event for everyone who is a genuine believer.

John Piper writes, in his book A Godward Life – Book II p. 203-204, in his article titled, “Can The Regenerate Be Erased From The Book of Life” the following:

Romans 8:30 says, “[Those] whom He justified, these He also glorified.”  In other words, between the event of justification by faith at the beginning of our Christian life, and the even of glorification at the resurrection of our bodies (Philippians 3:21), there will be no dropouts, bailouts, or pushouts.  “Those whom he justified, he also glorified” – all of them.  God will keep and sanctify those whom he has justified and make sure they keep the faith and endure to the end and are saved.

Whatever phrase in the Bible the skeptics want to use to disprove the ultimate security of God’s children in salvation must be interpreted through the lens of these verses.  No verse in Hebrews teaches that a person can fall from grace.  The entire book of Hebrews is teaching perseverance in the faith.  That is exactly what Revelation 3:5-6 is teaching.  Revelation 22:18-19 does not teach that a person can fall from final salvation through sin.  Once again, like Revelation 3:5-6 – it’s a warning to persevere and never use God’s amazing grace as a license to sin.

Persevere in the faith to the end and strive to enter His rest!

Pastor Josh Buice

Secure In Christ

One of the blessings of being raised in a Baptist church is the truth that I was taught as a boy from Holy Scripture that once a person is saved by Grace, they cannot lose their salvation.  At my home church in Georgia, we often referred to it as “once saved always saved.”  Unfortunately, many people today reject that grand truth on the basis of poor examples as opposed to biblical proof.  For instance, some folks walk an aisle, pray a prayer, shake a preacher’s hand, and get baptized.  They become a full member within the local Baptist church and remain active and faithful for about 3-6 months.  However, after a while, it becomes obvious that they are no longer present within the assembly for worship.  When contacted, they claim that they have “gotten out of the habit of church attendance and hope to be back soon.”  This practice continues for several years, and the individual’s life looks no different than it did before they came to church and walked down the aisle.  Some people point to events such as that and claim that the person lost their salvation or “fell from Grace.”  Is that really what happened?  Can a person truly fall from Grace?  Can a person really be saved one day and then lost the next?  What does the Bible say about such things?

Romans 8:28-30: And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

What Paul says to the Christians in Rome in this passage is perhaps the most powerful statement on eternal security in the entire Bible.  Notice that Paul uses five key words in this phrase that complete the entire timeline of salvation from eternity past to eternity future.

1.  Foreknowledge:  Refers to the ability of God to see everything in time (past, present, and future) at the same time with absolute knowledge.  However, it does not stop there.  This word is also connected with an intimate relationship between the God and His elect.  This word is where the subject of election is centered.  For instance, when Cain knew his wife, he knew her in an intimate manner.  He knew her in a way different than other women that he knew existed.  When Amos (Amos 3:2) tells the people of Israel that out of all the other nations God knew them alone – it does not mean that God did not know of any other people, it simply means that God chose Israel out of all the nations of earth to be His special people (Deut. 7).

2.  Predestination:  This word refers to the final location of the redeemed people of God – they are predetermined to live in Heaven according to the will of God.  It should be noted that this word is always connected with the redeemed – never with the lost.  In other words, the language of election and predestination is never used in connection with those who go to Hell.

3.  Calling:  This refers to an inward calling (conviction) of the Holy Spirit whereby God calls a person from a life of sin and darkness into His Holy family.  This is often experienced as the moving of God upon a person’s heart to repent and turn to Christ for salvation.

4.  Justification:  This word refers to the judicial action of God whereby He rules that they have a right standing before Him.  This is something that only God can perform and can only be accomplished through the blood of His Son as the complete payment for the debt of sin.

5.  Glorification:  This word refers to the future condition of those who have been saved by Grace.  They will receive a new body that is like the body of Christ – that will never have the horrible effects of sin, pain, and death.

It is extremely important at this point to notice something that is consistent through this entire passage of Scripture.  Paul uses a past tense to describe each aspect of salvation.  From the things that happened prior to birth, those things that each saved person experienced during time (calling and justification), and the end result of salvation (glorification – a future event) are all described in the past tense.  Although Paul is speaking of glorification (a future event) he uses a past tense to describe it.  The point Paul was making was that no matter what happens in this life – ALL of those who were foreknown of God, predestined by God, called of God, and justified by God – shall be glorified by God!  This is an extremely important point to grasp in Holy Scripture!  Not one person who experienced any aspect of the “golden chain” of salvation will ever be lost.  So, from our perspective, those who have truly been saved in Christ – called and justified – will never be lost!  Each one will be taken by God into Heaven and glorified.

While some people try to point out sinful people as those who have lost their salvation or fallen from grace, it is much easier to believe what the Bible says:

1 John 2:19:   They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.

Matthew 7:21-23:   Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Furthermore, those that Christ sends off into eternal damnation professing that He never knew them, will not be able to claim that He knew them for a season and then rejected them due to their sin.  Notice that Paul says that all of those known (foreknown) by God will be glorified (in Heaven).  However, all of those who go to eternal damnation are those that were never known by Christ (Matthew 7:21-23).

Therefore, those who live like they are lost are more than likely lost.  It is possible to backslide on God and do things that will be contrary to the Christian faith, but God will never allow a true child of God remain in that condition.  The book of Hebrews tells us that God chastens every one of His children.  It would be foolish to believe that a person is saved by Grace and then goes off into life living like the world for the remainder of their days on earth.  God would not allow it – and the person would not enjoy it.  Saved people enjoy being saved and they enjoy living for God.

Eternal security is something taught in Holy Scripture.  It is a grand truth that brings comfort to the heart!  It is wonderful to know that the One who has saved us by His Grace is powerful enough to keep us saved!  To Him be all glory, praise, and honor – forever!

Pastor Josh Buice

Our Spiritual Security – From God’s Perspective

Last year when Karis was only 2 years old, we lived next door to a small farm. In the evenings after I finished my work, we would walk over to the fence and look at the alpacas, goats, and chickens. One evening when we were approaching the fence, a few of the chickens came through the fence into our field, and Karis let out a loud scream and latched onto my leg with all of her might. I picked her up and looked into her eyes and said, “Karis, you do not have to be afraid of these chickens. Do you know why?” As she shook her head in the affirmative manner as she replied, “Unha.” She really did not know what I was saying, but her standard answer when asked if she understands or knows something is to say “yes.” As I continued to look into her eyes that were full of fear, I said, “I want you to know something. You don’t ever have to be afraid of any animal – because Daddy is here.” I wanted to teach my daughter that as long as her Daddy was with her – she did not need to worry about something harming her. She could feel secure with her Daddy’s presence.As we consider the love our Heavenly Father has for us – His children – we must also understand that we do not need to fear or be dismayed when it comes to our salvation. Our Heavenly Father is with us always. He never leaves us and He never forsakes us. We are kept by His power. We are in His hand. Just as I instructed my daughter about the security of her Daddy, we also need to know the security of our Heavenly Father. He will never allow one of His children to fall prey to anything in this world or beyond. We will never know of one single person who fell from the state of Grace into the pit of Hell. Our salvation is as secure as the throne of our Almighty God. To God be the glory!That is exactly what Paul was trying to get across to the readers of the letter penned to the Romans. Notice what he says in Romans 8:28-39:

Rom. 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.Rom. 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.Rom. 8:30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.Rom. 8:31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?Rom. 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?Rom. 8:33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.Rom. 8:34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.Rom. 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?Rom. 8:36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.Rom. 8:37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.Rom. 8:38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,Rom. 8:39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

This passage of Scripture could be broken down in the following way:I. The Eternal Plan of God (Vs. 28-30)A. The Plan Before TimeBefore time God had a plan to save sinners. This plan involved both foreknowledge and predestination.B. The Plan In TimeDuring time, God has called – and is continuing to call out sinners from a life of darkness into His marvelous light. This is done through evangelism, the preaching of the cross, and the work of the Holy Spirit (John 6:44). When sinners believe the Gospel through faith in Christ Jesus, they are justified (made right before God). This all takes place during time.C. The Plan After TimeIn the future, after time is all over, God has a plan to glorify His children in a body like the body of Christ. A body that does not decay and grow old. A body that does not get sick and that will never die. Notice the truth of this passage of Scripture. It says that the people that God justified He also glorified. The key point to understand here is that no person has been glorified at this time. That is all going to take place in the future. However, the point is clear. Anyone who has been justified will be glorified. Paul phrased it in the past tense signifying that there is no chance that a truly saved person will ever fall from the state of justification. They are kept by the power of God.II. The Secure Plan of God (Vs. 31-39)A. God’s Plan for BelieversThe plan of God for believers is to rescue them from the perils of sin and despair in order that they may be the recipients of His divine love. God’s plan for sinners is that we would be joined together in Christ to the Father as a joint heir!B. God’s Purpose for BelieversThe purpose for believers is to bring glory to God! Therefore, nothing in this life will ever be able to separate us from His love. Paul provides a listing of things that we often fear – and he makes the point loud and clear – we cannot lose our salvation!1. Christ provides our salvation2. Christ keeps us savedConclusion:To God be the glory! We cannot lose our salvation. Why? Because if anyone is called by God and justified through the blood of Jesus Christ – that person will also be glorified in the ages to come. It is not a maybe so – it is a sure thing!From my perspective the chickens were no threat at all. However, my daughter was literally scared to death. She needed to know that the presence of her Daddy was something that provided her security. As we consider the problems of this evil world, we should also realize that we do not have anything to fear – if God is for us – who can be against us! Our salvation is secure in our great and awesome God.

Finding Hope in our Eternal Security

Ephesians 1:11-14

In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

Paul penned down some of the most glorious words in Holy Scripture related to the subject of eternal security in Ephesians chapter one. Paul was making a clear point – the security of our salvation was in God’s hands and was completely secure. Notice the main issues that Paul raises in order to identify the security of the believer.I. The Believer’s InheritanceAccording to Paul, all believers were predestinated according to God’s purpose and will. It should be noted that the doctrine of predestination is connected to the doctrine of eternal security.  Predestination is always in reference to the saved, and is not used in connection with lost people.  Those who misuse the doctrine of predestination in order to suggest that God predestines sinners to Hell have a misunderstanding of God’s love for the world.Regarding this wonderful truth, we see that we have already received our spiritual inheritance. Often we think of Heaven and the wonderful inheritance that has yet to come, but according to Paul, we as true believers have already received our inheritance!“We have obtained an inheritance” is one single Greek word in the original manuscripts. This word is penned down in a particular way that Greeks would use to describe some future event that would come to pass and had absolutely no ability to fail. In other words, the reason the text says that we have already obtained our spiritual inheritance, is because it has no ability to fail!II. The Believer’s SalvationThe believer’s salvation is not based on a story written down by man. It is based on a real person who was fully man and fully God at the same time – Christ Jesus. The salvation we have is based on the fact that He actually died in our place, shed His blood for our sins, and rose again on the third day. The believer’s salvation is based on that truth that is written down and revealed in the Word of Truth. There is much being said today about the Bible, but what we must understand is that it is holy, inspired, inerrant, and infallible. It has no mixture of error and is completely trustworthy. Therefore, as the Gospel of our salvation is revealed in the Word of Truth, we can trust it completely as God’s Word.III. The Believer’s SecurityPaul continues by explaining that all believers are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. The word sealed in this text is the Greek word “sphragizo {sfrag-id’-zo}” which means “to set a seal upon, mark with a seal, to seal. a) for security: from Satan.” This is the same word used in Matthew 27:66 to “seal” the tomb of Jesus Christ. When the royal seal was placed upon something it would prevent anyone from opening it or violating the seal because it was a royal security measure. The seal of the Spirit of God upon the soul of a Christian is much more powerful than the royal seal of Rome. Therefore, we can be assured of our security in God!Paul continues to explain how the seal is proof of our salvation and security. He says, “Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” The “earnest” of our inheritance is the key to this phrase. The word “earnest” actually pictures a down payment. Just as a person places “earnest” money down on something that he is committing to purchase, God has given us His promise and full commitment that He will bring our salvation to the end safely by the seal of the Holy Spirit.Conclusion:We presently live in a world that is insecure and vulnerable. Things change on a daily basis in this world. We cannot be sure of a job, home, or financial stability in our present lives. Although our lives are not stable and secure here, we do have one thing that is always secure – our salvation. Nothing will ever rob us of our spiritual inheritance or relationship with God. He has adopted us into His family, and who is going to tell God that we cannot be His child? Christ is the Good Shepherd, and who or what could rob the Good Shepherd of one of His sheep? We are Christians who have the seal of the Spirit of God on our souls, and who or what is going to remove that royal seal? We as God’s children are safe in His arms for all of time and all of eternity!Praise Him!Rev. Josh Buice

Revelation 22:18-21 – Testimony of Preservation

In Revelation 22:18-21 – John comes to the close of his revelation – and thereby the close of the New Testament and biblical canon. Often we find controversies surrounding these last words of Holy Writ rather than an echo of the Apostle – “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” The two most common controversial subjects that surround this passage of scripture manifest themselves in the form of two independent questions. They are as follows:1. Is this warning speaking about Revelation only or the entire Bible?2. Does this warning in verses 18-19 prove that it is possible to lose your salvation?

Revelation 22:18-19 – Whole Bible or Revelation Only?

In our present day, many people claim that God speaks directly to them fresh prophecies in order for them to deliver them to the church. This is common in the Charismatic movement. Is this possible? Is it biblical? Certainly it is possible for God to speak – He is the God who speaks! However, as we look at the subject more closely, we can see that the Word of God is the completed revelation of God – and therefore, nothing else is needed! God did not forget anything. He has included all that is needful and necessary for us to see our sinful plunge and to hear our Savior’s call to salvation.If a person is to subtract from the prophecy of Revelation – would he likewise subtract from the epistle to the Romans? If a person would add to the prophecy of the Revelation – would he likewise add to the Gospel of Mark? The answer to both questions is rhetorical in nature – of course the person would do both! If one takes a narrow view of the warning holding it to Revelation only, it seems that the implications extend outside Revelation to the entire inspired Word.John MacArthur comments:

Question (Asked by a member of Grace Community Church)Revelation 22:18-19: “For I testify unto every man that hears the words of the prophecy of this book, if any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book. If any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the tree of life and out of the holy city and from the things written in this book.” Does this refer to just the book of Revelation or the whole Bible?

Answer (John MacArthur)(Now what that verse simply says is you can’t add anything to Revelation, right? If you do, it shall be added unto you the plagues. You can’t take away anything—if you take away anything, it shall be taken away from you the right to the tree of life, the holy city, and so forth.)The question is, “Does this refer to just the book of Revelation or the whole Bible?” That’s an important question. Let me answer it this way: let’s say that it refers only to the book of Revelation. That would be the closest possible interpretation, right? This book—“I testify unto every man that hears the words of the prophecy of this book.” Let’s say he’s talking about Revelation. Now, listen to me, friends: if you can’t add anything to Revelation, you can’t add anything to the Bible either, right? Because it’s the end! I don’t know why people get so confused about that. They say, “Does this just mean you can’t add to Revelation?” Yes, it just means that, but if you can’t add to Revelation, you can’t add because that’s the end of the Bible! It seems fairly clear to me.Then the person asked a second question, “Does this warning apply to David Wilkerson’s vision?” Have you seen the book or have you heard about the book called The Vision? Well, you don’t need to worry about it, but David Wilkerson had a vision, supposedly God-given. Does this apply to that? Well, I believe this is one of the great errors of the Charismatic movement, and I call it an error in the area of understanding biblical inspiration and revelation: they are still getting revelation from God when the Bible says you can’t have any more! I think it applies in a very real sense.People are saying, “Well, these people are inspired. When you speak in tongues, that’s God speaking his revelation. When these guys have visions, that’s God speaking. Oh, we agree, they’re not as inspired as Paul and they’re not as inspired as David and they’re not as inspired as John and so forth and so on; there are different degrees of inspiration.” Baloney. There aren’t any degrees of inspiration. Either God said it or somebody else said it. God isn’t saying, “I’ll say three words, then you say three.” Or, “I’ll give you a general idea and you carry it yourself.” God either breathed it out or He didn’t. The words are either God’s words or they aren’t God’s words.You say, “But a guy like Wilkerson… Man, sometimes it’s biblical.” Well, when it’s biblical, you know, it’s biblical. And when it doesn’t say what the Bible says, it isn’t God because you can’t add anything. There is no more inspiration and one of the great heresies today is that there are people getting more revelation from God! All the revelation in the New Testament is completed, the canon is closed, the biblical writers are already identified. There aren’t any more, there aren’t any more apostles—that settles the issue.But, listen to me, people: every time somebody allows more revelation, all they do is confuse the issue. You want some illustrations? Joseph Smith. Mary Baker Eddie. Judge Rutherford. Annie Besant. Madame Blavatsky. On and on and on and on it goes! Ellen G. White. Whoever you are, whenever people start getting more revelation from God, you have the makings of a cult. It just doesn’t work that way. The same thing happened in the Roman Catholic church when they started saying tradition was equal to revelation: it just destroyed the truth.No, there is no more revelation.http://www.biblebb.com/files/macqa/1301-B-15.htm – 4/16/07

 

Does Revelation 22:18-19 prove you can lose your salvation?

As we approach this subject, it is important to read the Scripture rather than our present ideas and theology into the Word. What does the text say? It says:Rev. 22:18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:Rev. 22:19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

Rev. 22:20 He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.Rev. 22:21 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

Notice that the text does not indicate that the person’s name is erased from the Book of life. It simply says, God will take the person’s part out of the book of life. We must be careful here not to misinterpret the text. In the study of Scripture, an important rule for biblical interpretation exists in hermeneutics. It implies that we should always interpret the obscure passages in light of the more clear passages of Holy Scripture. A good student of the Word of God understands that the Bible does not contradict itself, therefore, the unclear passages (very few exist) must be interpreted in light of the more clear passages.In this text, we have a controversial subject. Is it possible to lose your salvation? Some denominations insist that it is possible to fall from grace. However, their arguments are usually built upon small unclear passages rather than the entire testimony of the Bible. Here we have a warning about adding and subtracting from the Word of God. Some have argued that this one passage indicates that a person can have their name in the Lamb’s book of life and then erased out when they seek to harm the inspired text. In order to cover this subject, it is important that we view this possibility in light of Holy Scripture.

Ephesians 1:4-5 – According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, If God did what Ephesians 1:4-5 claims – why would He later erase their name from the book of life and take away their inheritance from the Holy City? Does it make sense at all?

Ephesians 1:11 – In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:

Notice what this text says. It says we have obtained. The point Paul is making is very clear. Those to whom God has elected before the foundation of the world, have already obtained an inheritance in Christ Jesus. The inheritance will not be possessed until later – but the point is clear – what Christ accomplished on the cross for those to whom the Father elected – it is waiting on them in eternity!The verb used here – we have obtained an inheritance – is in the aorist passive indicative form. The Greeks would often use this form to indicate something of the future that would occur with the certainty that it had already occurred. That is a wonderful way for God to inspire this text! What does that indicate about our salvation? What does that indicate about our inheritance? What does that indicate about our security?

Does this inheritance of verse eleven speak of eternal inheritance? How do we know? We can be sure due to the context of the text. Context is always key! If we read further in the passage we see verses 12-14 unpack the details about our inheritance. It is described as sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise. How much more secure could our salvation become?

Conclusion – As we go back to the passage in Revelation we must understand that the warning here does not include the true Christian. How could a person who has been elected by God before time, sealed by the Spirit of God, purchased by the Son of God ever fall from grace or lose his or her salvation? A Christian will never seek to harm the Holy Scripture by addition or subtraction. The people that have been guilty of this throughout history and even in our present day are heretics who have professed the name of Christ but they have denied Him with their actions, speech, and sinful practices. Therefore, the people who add to and subtract from the prophecy prove themselves to be heretics or apostates – they have not persevered until the end – thereby proving they are not genuine Christians.God has always preserved His Word. This warning serves as a testimony of God’s preservation of His Word rather than a passage about losing one’s salvation. The implications are clear – those who would do such a thing are not the children of God – they are enemies that will never take part in the marvelous blessings revealed and recorded in Holy Writ.

For the glory of God!

Pastor Josh Buice