Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Final Answer

A few years ago, I spent quite a bit of time wondering how I would know if I was saved or not.  I mean, I had been baptized and all, but I had never come to the point in my mind where I could say with assurance that I was saved.  Have you ever feel that reluctance to say, “I am saved!”?

I think I can narrow the whole deal down to one issue…maybe it’ll make sense to you too.  First, since I don’t believe that we are “once saved, always saved,” I do believe that we can backslide at any point.  It’s kind of like dieting, a topic I can definitely relate to.   OK, so I’ve lost this weight, I’m feeling good, eating right, exercising; I’m thin.    What really happens though?  I get lazy about getting on the scale regularly; I miss a few days of exercise; I lose control of my portion control…and I’ve gained back the weight.  It takes daily attention and vigilance, and sometimes I get really discouraged.  Wouldn’t it be great if we could be once thin, always thin?  Now, that’s a belief I could buy into!

Our walk with Christ, unfortunately, is very much the same.  We start out really committed to expanding our relationship with Christ.  We study the Bible, pray, go to church, fellowship with other believers and things are really going well – and I believe at that point we are saved.  But then we sleep in a couple of Sabbaths, hit the snooze a couple times instead of getting up for morning Bible study and pretty soon, we’re walking on our own away from God.  I believe that if the Holy Spirit left us to our own (well, Satan’s) devices, all of us would end up lost.

There’s this Psalm by this guy names Asaph, who got so wrapped up in all the stuff around him that he didn’t have, that he started to believe that his walk with God was a waste of time.  Everybody else was getting somewhere, except him. Check out Psalm 73 this afternoon; it’s a bit long to quote here, but I think you’ll be able to identify with Asaph.  Anyway, the point I’m trying to make here is that, as always, it is much easier to drift away from God than it is to walk with Him.  So, to my mind, we can’t make a definitive statement that I was saved on such and such a date.  Maybe it’s just me; I don’t know. 

But can we ever say that we’re saved?  How do we know?  What should we say when somebody asks us that question?  Can we tell by looking if someone else is saved? Hmmmm.

Well, that’s what the pre-Advent judgment is all about.  That’s when we’re finally and ultimately saved or lost.  And believe it or not, this is good news.  Saved or lost is not an arbitrary decision that God makes.  In fact, it’s not a decision God makes at all. 
“The judgment is not a time when God decides to accept or reject us; it’s the time when God finalizes our choice as to whether or not we have accepted or rejected Him…” 
So, what do I do with that information? Do I (a) decide that I can’t be saved and give up?  (b) assume that of course I’m saved and get on with my life?  Or (c) stay faithful to Jesus, leaning on His grace for our salvation. 

“Ooh, I don’t know Rege. Sometimes it just seems so impossible, I do feel like giving up, just like that Asaph dude who wrote the Psalm. 

“So, you’re saying your answer is (a)?

“Now, hang on, Rege.  Man, wouldn’t it be great if (b) were the answer.  But I know what the Bible says. Ezekiel 18:24 says, 
"But if a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits sin and does the same detestable things the wicked man does, will he live? None of the righteous things he has done will be remembered. Because of the unfaithfulness he is guilty of and because of the sins he has committed, he will die.”
Then, in Luke 8:5-15 there’s the parable of the farmer where Jesus said,
"… The seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life's worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature….”
“Ya wanna use a lifeline, kid?”

“No! Hang on, Rege, I’m getting there.  Let’s see, Romans 11:17-21 tells me,
“If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, "Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in." Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.”
“Wow, that one really lays it all on the line.  I have to say (c).”

“You’re sure?  You’re going to say (c)?

“Yeah, Rege, I’m sure.  (c).

“Is that your final answer?”

What’s your final answer?

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