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Galatians 5:16-23 teaches that at any moment we are either walking by the Holy Spirit or according to the sin nature. Walking by the Spirit, enjoying fellowship with God, walking in the light are virtually synonymous. During these times, the Holy Spirit is working in us to illuminate our minds to the truth of Scripture and to challenge us to apply what we learn. But when we sin, we begin to live based on the sin nature. Our works do not count for eternity. The only way to recover is to confess (admit, acknowledge) our sin to God the Father and we are instantly forgiven, cleansed, and recover our spiritual walk (1 John 1:9). Please make sure you are walking by the Spirit before you begin your Bible study, so it will be spiritually profitable.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

032 - Sealed by the Spirit [B]

Ephesians 1:13-14 by Robert Dean
Once you believe in Christ, can you lose your salvation? Listen to this lesson to learn that our salvation depends on God and not on us so nothing we can do can cause us to lose it. Note that our salvation occurs when we hear the good news of the gospel and believe in Christ and see what else happens at that moment. Hear a number of passages that talk about eternal security in Scripture. Find out about the sealing ministry of the Holy Spirit, which assures us that Christians will always be God’s possession.
Series:Ephesians (2018)
Duration:52 mins 23 secs

Sealed by the Spirit
Ephesians 1:13–14
Ephesians Lesson #032
June 23, 2019

Opening Prayer

“Father, we’re so thankful that we have Your Word. As we study the history of Your Word, the history of the inspiration of Your Word, the writing of Your Word down through the ages from Moses and Job all the way to the writing of Revelation and as we study the preservation of Your Word, we know that this is great evidence that it is exactly what it claims to be, Your very revelation of Yourself to us in Your plan of salvation and Your plan of the spiritual life to us, so that we might grow close to You and that we might learn to live for You in light of our eternal destiny to serve You, to rule and reign with the Lord Jesus Christ in the kingdom and on into eternity.

“Father, as we study Your Word, we are mindful that this is how we are to grow and how we are to be prepared that we might be strong warriors for the truth and strong warriors for the Lord Jesus Christ. We pray these things in His name, amen.”

Slide 2

Open your Bibles with me to Ephesians 1. I’m going to give you just a quick review from last time as we focus on the topic in Ephesians 1:13. We may not get to verse 14, which talks about being sealed by means of the Spirit.

Slide 3

Last time as we looked at Ephesians 1:11, we saw that it teaches that the Church Age believer is made a new possession of God “in Christ.” The passage reads, as I’ve translated it, “In addition, it was through union with Him we were made His possession by His laying claim to us according to His purpose who works all these things according to the counsel of His will.”

Those of you who weren’t here may be looking at your Bibles and scratching your heads and saying “Well, that seems really different from what’s there.” I went through the passage last time and showed that the NET translation, the American Standard Version of, I believe, 1901, Gordon Olson’s translation (we have copies of his Resurrection New Testament available for people if they want them), along with a number of others recognize that the passive voice of the verb that is translated “we have obtained” indicates that it is not that we have obtained an inheritance. That is the way it is translated in most translations, but as a passive, it means that we were made His possession. That’s the idea in inheritance. It relates to ownership.

Not only is it a more accurate translation based on the grammar and the syntax of the passage, but using the word “possession” also fits the context a lot better. As we will see, as Paul seems to be building to a crescendo in this blessing statement, this berachah of Ephesians 1:3–14, he used more and more words that relate to this concept that we are now owned by God.

We’ve studied this before. We are slaves of our sin nature when we are born. When we are saved, we are to become slaves of righteousness. We are slaves one way or the other. We are either slaves of our sin natures, or we are slaves of the Lord Jesus Christ, slaves to righteousness. There’s no middle ground. You can’t say, “I’m gonna be my own slave.” That means you’re going to be a slave to your sin nature.

This idea of God’s ownership goes back to the concept of redemption, which was introduced in the second section of this blessing statement when we read, “In Him”—meaning in Christ—“we have redemption …” Redemption is paying the purchase price. It often is related to the purchase price of a slave in the slave market. We are born into the slave market of sin, and Christ paid the penalty, the payment of that price. As Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 6:19–20, “… we are not our own, for we have been bought with a price …” This concept that the believer becomes the possession of God runs throughout all of the spiritual life teachings in the New Testament.

We translated this, “It was through union with Him”—that is in Him, through the baptism by the Holy Spirit when we’re identified with His death, burial and resurrection and entered into Him—“we were made His possession.” God makes us His possession, and He does that by laying claim. The Greek word PROORIZO doesn’t mean predestined in the sense of God determining whether we’re going to heaven or hell, but it has that idea of being foreordained to a purpose. This is talking about our purpose in Christ.

Furthermore, the only use of this word in classical Greek literature, nonbiblical literature, was to indicate laying claim to a piece of property, to a piece of real estate, so that is a much better word. This leads us to Ephesians 1:13, that we have been sealed. Sealing was a way of indicating ownership and possession in the ancient world.

When we translate these words in a consistent manner, suddenly, we have a different understanding of this passage. It lays that specific groundwork for us. It is parallel, as we saw last week, to God’s work within the people of God in the Old Testament, within Israel. God put a temporary hold on His plan for Israel during this Church Age. In this Church Age, Paul showed in the first three chapters of Ephesians that the new people of God are made up of both Jew and Gentile, who are equal members of the body of Christ.

Slide 4

There’s an analogy with the Old Testament people of God. In Deuteronomy 4:20, they were referred to as God’s “people, an inheritance” or a possession. This same idea ran through the Old Testament.

Slide 5

In Deuteronomy 9:26, Israel was referred to as God’s inheritance. In Deuteronomy 9:29, again God’s inheritance, God’s possession, that He chose them to be a people for Himself. It was a corporate choosing, not an individual choosing for salvation, but a corporate choosing of the nation for a purpose.

Slide 6

In Deuteronomy 32:9, “For the Lord’s portion …” We saw that the Greek word used to translate the Hebrew word is MERIS, which indicates that share or portion of an inheritance designated to somebody. For example, the prodigal son came to his father and said, “Give me my share or my portion of my inheritance.” He squandered it, but he was still the father’s son. He didn’t lose his position in the family. He lost that which was part of his inheritance. This was the same idea in the Old Testament. The Lord’s portion is His people, His inheritance, His possession.

I put a note there at the bottom that the Hebrew word that’s used in the text there is nahalah, which means to give as a possession. This idea of ownership and possession and share and inheritance are all tied together. We find these words being connected.

Sadly, few people take the time to truly investigate the significance of that. It’s foundational to understanding who we are in Christ, who we are in our new role and our new position and our new responsibility as members of the body of Christ and how all of that fits together in terms of our future destiny as Church Age believers, as those who are the bride of Christ to rule and reign with Him in the coming Kingdom.

Slide 7

1.      This interpretation reinforces the idea of a corporate election, not an individual selection to salvation. In Him, those who have trusted in Christ and are, therefore, placed in Christ, possessing His righteousness, are made His possession.

Slide 8

2.      The idea of being made His possession fits very nicely with where the passage is headed, our being sealed by the Spirit, another metaphor for identifying a possession. A seal was put on property to indicate ownership and to protect and provide security for that possession.

Slide 9

3.      It reinforces the teaching of eternal security.

That question has not come up within our congregation, but it is a question in many places. I know that when I’m in in Ukraine, this question always comes up among the students because there is no eternal security in the Greek Russian Orthodox environment or the Russian Baptist Church. I remember one time when I was over there speaking at a church in Zhitomir. I think Igor was doing the translating for me. After it was over, we were down on the front row, and there was prayer. Afterwards, Igor leaned over and said that the ladies behind us were saying “Oh no! Not another one of those people who believes in eternal security!”

That is common there. As professors who go over there, we get a lot of questions on this issue. It always comes down to understanding who God is and who saves us, and what He is able to do. It has nothing to do with who we are or what we do. If you believe that a person can lose his salvation, then somewhere in your muddled thinking, you have the idea that you do something to be saved and to keep yourself saved. It is no longer of God but you. Scripture doesn’t teach that.

Slide 10

We saw that the word PROORIZO, wrongly translated predestined, has to do with being ordained ahead of time. It means that those who are in Christ are appointed to a mission. It’s a corporate designation, a corporate appointment.

Slide 11

This is “according to the counsel of God’s will.”  It is within the framework of His thinking. His thinking is based on omniscience. We can’t grasp His omniscience. He knows all the knowable. He knows everything that could be, should be, ought to be, or might have been. Nothing is outside the purview of His knowledge. He never learns anything. He never forgets anything. He doesn’t really have a chronological process to the development of His plan and His thinking because it was all instantly there from all eternity. That blows our minds.

We think that God thinks it through in a process, and we communicate it that way. It’s just anthropopathic. That is a way of talking about God’s actions and His thinking in human terms, so that we can grasp it. There really is no chronological development within His thinking or the development of His plan. He didn’t think one day “I’m going to do this,” and “It might make sense to do this and that.” God always knew everything instantly, intuitively, absolutely. We can’t grasp that. Paul explained it this way. It’s according to the deliberation of His thinking, of His desire to save those who trust in Christ.

Slide 12

Then, we came to Ephesians 1:12, “that we who first hoped in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.” This is the second statement of praise, the second doxological statement in this berachah, or this blessing statement, and it expresses the purpose.

We see that the purpose is that “we who hoped…” The New King James version reads “we who trust.” Sometimes, the concept of trust and hope are very close together, but it is not the word for trust. It is PROELPIZO. ELPIZO is the root meaning “to hope”. The noun is ELPIS. Hope is a confident expectation.

 The “we” indicates the Jews. The reason I’m emphasizing this is that there is a certain amount of confusion, I think, in many of the commentaries. They don’t think that Paul started to talk about we and you as we Jewish believers and you Gentile believers until Ephesians 2:11–13. Nothing contextually indicates that he started using we and you in that way. I believe that he was building an argument. He started at this stage, and he was already hinting at the fact that something was taking place among we Jews, and now you Gentiles are participating in that.

I’m teaching you that all of us are one in the body of Christ. You and I read this in the twenty-first century. We think that we’re all one in the body of Christ, but at the time Paul was writing this to the Ephesian believers, the Jewish background believers were in that twenty or thirty year period struggling to come to grips with the fact that the Jewish people were no longer the people of God in this dispensation, that God was including Gentiles equally within this new entity called the body of Christ or the church.

The church isn’t a replacement for Israel. God is still going to fulfill His promises and prophecies to Israel. The focus on Israel will return in that seven-year period, the last seven years in God’s plan for Israel described in Daniel 9.

One reason that the church must be raptured before the Tribulation is because the Tribulation is the time of Jacob’s wrath. The focus will be on Israel, not on the church. God will shift back to an emphasis on Israel after the Rapture of the church. He will remove the church so that He can restore that focus on the Jewish people during the Tribulation.

When Paul wrote here that “we who first hoped in Christ,” he was talking history. We Jews first trusted in Christ on the day of Pentecost, the first 10 chapters or so in Acts. That’s the period he was talking about. When he shifted to the you, he was talking to Gentiles who were being brought into the body of Christ.

Slides 13 and 14

We”—Jewish believers—“first hoped in Christ”—and that—“should be to the praise of His glory.” “Should be to” in the Greek indicates the purpose of being made a possession. It has to express the purpose of a verb. It goes back to Ephesians 1:11, that we were made a possession. That’s the main verb. Why were we made a possession? We were made a possession for the praise of God’s glory. That is the focal point here, that our new ownership and the glory of God, who owns us, should be manifest in our lives. This is to the praise of His glory, and that idea expresses His essence.

The word glory was often used to summarize all of God’s character, all of His essence, all of who God is. We demonstrate in our lives how glorious God’s character is. This whole section is God-centered, God-focused. That’s why we live for Him. We don’t live for us. We struggle with that on a minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour, day-by-day basis, that we are not here to live for ourselves and to please the lust patterns of our sin natures, which wars against our souls, but we are here to serve Him and to glorify Him.

Slide 15

The next verse is new material. This is another, shall we say, difficult passage to translate. We have to translate it correctly before we understand what it’s saying. That’s just basic. I take the time to go through the original languages because even among English translations—and I’m going to point some out here as we go through this—you will find discrepancies in the way they have translated these passages, sometimes, because of ambiguity in the Greek and other times because of ambiguity between the translators’ ears. No one is free from biases or prejudices or presuppositions that they bring to the translation of a text. Any good translator tries to identify those and avoid those traps and minefields as he goes through his translation.

Ephesians 1:11. I’m just going to read it as is stated in the New King James, and then we will start analyzing it. “In Him you also trusted …” Notice the word trusted is in italics. That’s because it’s not there in the original. The translators of the King James and the New King James thought that it was carrying on the same idea of the main verb in the previous verse, that we were the first to trust in Him or hope in Him. They supplied it here, but it’s not necessary. In fact, it’s wrong, but it reads, “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom, also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.”

Let me point out a couple things that are not readily evident if you’re looking at the English but are readily evident if you’re looking at a Greek text. The first phrase in the Greek text is EN HO, which means in whom. It’s translated “in Him” at the beginning of Ephesians 1:13, and I think that the translators of the New King James translated it this way back in Ephesians 1:7. In Him is the same phrase. It should be in whom, and it’s referring back to Christ.

To clarify that it is about Christ, they translated it in Him and the same at the beginning of Ephesians 1:11 where it says in Him. That should be in whom. It’s all talking about being in Christ. Notice something. It says in Him here, and down here it’s in whom. It’s the exact same phrase and exact same words and structure in both places. It’s inconsistent, and we lose the sense of what’s happening here when it’s not translated correctly.

Slide 16

Also, there is a problem that we will see with the word trusted. Is that really going on here?

Slide 17

We see “… after you heard the word of truth …” and that’s fuzzy because it really means when. It’s a temporal participle. It means, “… when you heard the word of truth … when you believed …” It’s talking about things that happened at the same time, not that there is a distance of time between them. It clarifies it a lot, and it tells us that “… when you believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.”

A couple of other translations illustrate the distinction. I don’t agree totally with either of them although they bring out the major issues that I’m talking about. The first one is from the New American Standard. It translates it in Him and then again in Him down here, but it’s in a different word order, so it gets a little crazy, but it’s still emphasizing that we were sealed in Him. It’s positional, and that’s what we see here.

Ephesians 1:13, NASB 1995. “In Him, you also”—they also translated it “after,” which is fuzzy. “… listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation …” The next participle is translated, “having also believed” and it should have “after” or “when” there to clarify that participle, and it doesn’t. “… you were sealed in Him”—that’s positional; that’s pretty good—“with the Holy Spirit of promise.” That last part is pretty solid.

The NET picks up on the fact that it shouldn’t be after, but it should be when. They translated it, “And when you heard the word of truth …” That is, at the time that you heard the gospel of your salvation. Then, they use em dashes to set this off, which is very good “—when you believed in Christ.” They’re making the point that this sealing by the Holy Spirit occurred when you heard the gospel. At that time, you believed in Christ and were sealed by the Holy Spirit. It didn’t occur later.

The reason that’s important is when you get into some traditions in American Christianity, for example in Pentecostalism, they put forth the idea that you got some things at the Cross, and then when you dedicate your life or when you commit your life to Jesus or you do some secondary active yielding or something, then you get the rest of the package. You have a two-step, not like dancing the Texas Two-Step, but a two-step Christian life. If you came out of a Baptist background, they actually had a third step in there, so you have two steppers and three steppers and it gets really confusing and we’re not going to go there this morning.

Slide 18

We’re going to clarify this. This is my translation, trying to clean this up, “In Whom …” Literally, it’s in Whom, but it’s talking about our position in Christ. Both of these phrases, in whom, are identifying what we have in Christ. The New King James translates it, “In Him you also trusted,” and that makes it look like we’re trusting in Christ. That misses the point. These are structurally parallel, and both of them are talking about what we heard. There’s no mention of trust at all. That was added and confuses the whole thing.

In whom you also”—you sense the excitement here. As Paul was building, he repeated himself. “In Him you also …” Then, he sort of went to a side explanation. “In Him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel in your salvation, in Whom, when you believed, you were sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise.

Slide 19

The main idea here is that when you trust in Christ, you are placed in Him, and that identification with Him is at the same time that you are sealed by God the Holy Spirit.

God the Holy Spirit has several ministries in the life of every believer from the instant of salvation. The first is that we are baptized by means of God the Holy Spirit. We are instantly identified with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. That’s the sense of the meaning of baptism. Its literal, denotative meaning is to be immersed. Its connotative meaning is always identification with something, sometimes identification with fire, sometimes identification with water, sometimes identification with the leader.

The Israelites were baptized in the cloud and in the sea. They didn’t get wet, but they were identified with the cloud, which was God, and they were identified with the sea, the Red Sea, so that they became placed into Moses. They become in Moses as opposed to being in Christ. That’s stated in 1 Corinthians 10:3.

Here, we have a parallel type of statement. We’re baptized by means of the Spirit, and at the same time, we also receive a seal that identifies us as God’s possessions. That’s what a seal does.

Slide 20

In the first line, “In whom”—that is in Christ—“you also were sealed by the Spirit of promise,”—he injected a couple of other things into his statement—“… when you heard …” The temporal participle from the word AKOUO means to hear and has the implication of responding to something in obedience. It’s not just having your auditory nerves stimulated. You probably heard this from your parents. You did something, and they told you not to, and they said, “You didn’t listen,” and you said, “No, I heard you.” No, what they meant a lot of times was that you didn’t apply what they told you.

Slide 21

He was talking about that here. When you applied the word of truth, the message of the Gospel, you heard it and obeyed it and trusted in Jesus. He called it “the word of truth,” not literally the written word but the message, the word of truth. The word for truth is ALETHEIA, which has the idea of that which is stable, that which conforms to reality.

That idea is completely rejected by modern philosophy. Nothing conforms to reality because all reality is interpreted subjectively. We can’t know what is real. Thanks to Emmanuel Kant in the late eighteenth century, we can only know our perceptions of things. That’s how modern man works. The Scripture says that we can know things as they actually are. We can know reality. That starts by understanding the revelation of God.

The word of truth is defined here through the phrase “the gospel of your salvation.” The word “gospel” means the good news. It is good news because, first, there’s bad news. The bad news is that we are born spiritually dead. Because we’re spiritually dead, we don’t have real life. We don’t have eternal life. When we die, we will be condemned for eternity in the Lake of Fire. Again and again, that’s emphasized in Scripture.

The good news is that God provided a solution. The good news is we can have life. The good news is that we can have an eternal destiny in Heaven where there’s no more sorrow, no more tears, no more pain, for the old things are passed away, Revelation 21:4.

The good news is that “… God loves you in such a way that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes on Him should not perish but have everlasting life,” John 3:16. That is the good news of the gospel. The good news is you don’t have to do anything to earn it or deserve it. You don’t have to reform your life. You don’t have to repent of your sin. You don’t have to do any number of other things that people want to join to faith. You just believe. It’s faith alone. Nothing accompanies that. As soon as you connect faith to faith and baptism, faith and repentance, faith and works, you destroy the Gospel, and it’s no longer the path to salvation but the path to the slavery of legalism.

Slide 22

“… when you heard the word of truth …” It’s the gospel of your salvation. What did you do? You believed. That’s the next word, “… when you believed …” This is the Greek word PISTEUO, the verb, which is used over ninety-five times in the Gospel of John to indicate the only condition for eternal salvation. The word repent never occurs in the Gospel of John.

John 20:31, “These are written that you might”—What? That you might work your way to Heaven? That’s not what it says. “These are written that you might improve your life.” Nope. “These are written that you might BELIEVE that Jesus is the Christthe Messiah—“the Son of God …” and that by reforming your life—no it doesn’t say that—“… by believing you may have life through His name.” Salvation is by faith alone in Christ alone, not in Christ and the church, not in Christ and works, but in Christ alone.

Slides 23 and 24

Here, Paul said the same thing. When you believed, at that instant that you believed, you were sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise. The Greek word SPHRAGIZO has the idea of sealing. The idea of sealing is very interesting because there are different kinds of seals and different purposes for seals in the Scripture. The primary idea is to provide security, like eternal security.

It’s interesting how that word connects there. We are sealed and this provides security. One example that we have of that kind of sealing is after Jesus was buried in the tomb, and they rolled the stone in front of the tomb to make sure nobody would steal the body. In other words, to secure the body so that no one could take it, the Roman soldiers put a seal on the tomb. It’s the same word.

A seal has to do with marking something in such a way that it is protected and identified and secured. Another way, actually the third meaning listed in the Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich, and Danker Greek Lexicon is to mark with a seal as a means of identification, so that the mark denoting ownership also carries with it the protection by the owner. That’s an impressive statement because that’s not just saying that a mark guarantees, which is part of the nuance, part of the meaning related to SPHRAGIZO, but it’s the idea that this mark shows ownership. It shows an ownership so that the owner is protecting that which he owns,

I think there’s a great cultural analogy in our history. Back in the days of the of the old West, when the great cattle ranches were developing, they marked and identified ownership of cattle, because initially they didn’t have barbed wire or, as we say in Texas, “bob wire”, to fence off their property. Everybody’s cattle just milled around and mixed up together. They had roundups, and they would have to decide whose was whose. They branded their cattle. Of course, one rancher’s bull would get with another rancher’s heifer and a lot of calves were born. They weren’t branded. They would have to divide up the calves in some way.

Each owner had a specific mark or symbol, a circle with a bar or a letter with a line through it. All kinds of different marks were used in order to indicate the brand and the ownership. They would mark their cattle that way. It indicated ownership and provided security for them as to their possessions so that they wouldn’t lose their possessions at roundup time and things of that nature. It’s a great comparison. God seals us. He brands us as a mark of His ownership, and that brand can’t be taken away.

In the old West, another thing happened. Rustlers would come along and use maybe a cinch ring or something else in order to lay another line or symbol or a circle around the brand so that they could counterfeit the brand and change it. That also happens with Christians, a great analogy for eternal security.

A lot of Christians want to act like they’re not God’s anymore. They want to change the brand and look like they’re not owned by God. In ranching times, if they had a controversy and thought cattle had been rustled, they could prove it, but they had to kill the cow. They skinned it, and when they reversed the hide, they could see if the brand had been changed. They could identify the true owner even though it had been counterfeited.

Some Christians try to change the brand, but when it comes to judgment time, it’s going to be discovered that God still owns them. They will not lose their salvation. It’s a tremendous picture of eternal security. No matter what it may look like on the outside, we all know Christians who live as if they never heard the gospel. They don’t know anything about Scripture. They’re in complete rebellion against God, and they act like children of the devil. When they die, it will be demonstrated that they have the seal of the Spirit, and they cannot and will not lose their salvation. This is a tremendous passage for eternal security to help us understand what has taken place.

Slide 25

The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology states, “The real importance of the seal is a legal one.” Isn’t that interesting how from the first chapter of Genesis on, we see these legal analogies to salvation, that God sets up a legal framework. Words like justification, reconciliation, propitiation, forgiveness are all terms that come out of a courtroom environment, confession, all of these. This is another word that has a legal sense. It shows that “the owner has put his mark on the possessions, his beasts … and thereby guards his property against theft. To that extent one can call it a protecting sign or a guarantee.” That’s the idea behind the seal.

Slide 26

This word SPHRAGIZO is used in two other key passages in the New Testament. The first one is in Ephesians 4:30 in the second part of the book, which is where application comes. Paul said, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom”—that is, by the Spirit—“you have been sealed to the day of redemption.” It doesn’t say you have been sealed until you really blow it with certain bad sins. It says you are sealed until the day of redemption, when that redemption is finally realized.

In 2 Corinthians 1:22, Paul wrote, “who also has sealed us”—that is, God has sealed us—“and given us the Holy Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” That idea of a guarantee fits into this. That’s the word we pick up in Ephesians 1:14. We won’t get there this morning, but just to let you know what’s coming, it says “the Spirit of promise who is the guarantee of our inheritance.” That’s our guarantee. The inheritance has to do with our eternal possession of eternal life as heirs of God.

Slide 27

I want to close by giving you key verses that reinforce our eternal security.

Slide 28

1.      Definition (derived from looking at these various passages): the work of God toward the believer.

Right there, we have to stop. It is God’s work. Securing our salvation isn’t our work. God is the One, as we’ll see, who keeps us. We do not keep ourselves. We are kept by Christ. It’s His power that keeps us, not our power. The work of God toward the believer at the instant of faith alone in Christ alone guarantees that God’s free gift of salvation is eternal and cannot be lost. It can’t be terminated. It can’t be abrogated. God’s not going to go back on His word. It can’t be nullified or reversed by any thought, act, or change of belief in the person saved.

Somebody can trust in Christ as his Savior today, wake up tomorrow, and go back to the same pigsty that he lived in before and continue in immorality or in idolatry or in criminality or as a gossip or as a reprobate or as an arrogant person, and his life never changes. We find Christians who say, “I just can’t believe so-and-so is a Christian!” That’s because they don’t have an understanding of the gospel, that you can be saved and live the rest of your life as a newborn babe who never grows, but you still are spiritually alive.

We can do nothing to reverse that one act of faith. It just takes one second. Somebody says, “I believe that!” He thinks in his soul, “I believe that.” Ten seconds later, he thinks, “No, no I don’t.” Well, too late, buddy! You’re saved. You’re going to end up in Heaven. Nobody’s going to believe it when they see you, but you will be there.

In fact, one story that will surprise all of us is (unfortunately he can’t find the paper anymore) from my good friend John Hintz, pastor of Tucson Bible Church. He had a paper that he discovered that was written by Karl Marx during a brief period of time in his life as a teenager that he was a Christian. He wrote on justification by faith alone, and it was spot on and absolutely orthodox. Marx was born into a Jewish home. When he was about thirteen or fourteen, his father converted to Christianity. He finished the last couple of years in what we would call high school as a Christian. Then, he completely gave it up and went in the devil’s direction. That’ll be fascinating. You may end up in Heaven living down the street from Karl Marx, and that will surprise him as well as you. We have some passages that back this up.

Slide 29

In 2 Timothy 2:11–13, Paul said, “Faithful is the Word.” We can trust in this. This is reliable. Then, he had four statements, four if clauses that are all first-class conditions, if and we assume the first part is true. “If we died with Him …” That happens with baptism by the Holy Spirit. We’re identified with His death, burial, and resurrection. “If we died with Him, we shall live with Him.”

Second statement, “If we endure …” If we endure suffering as a believer and don’t give up, there will be rewards. “If we endure, we shall rule with Him.” On the other hand, if we don’t endure, “If we deny Him,” if we give up when they threaten to burn us at the stake, then “He will deny us,” deny us rewards. We haven’t endured, so we’re not going to rule with Him.

The last statement sums it up. “If we are unfaithful …” If we are faithless, and we fail, “He remains faithful”—to His promise and to His word—“for He cannot deny Himself.” That’s a great promise since we all screw up badly. Let me tell you, I think we screw up a lot more than we think because we have all these subtle mental attitude sins of pride and arrogance. We’re constantly judging people, and we don’t want to admit it. Because it’s a mental attitude sin, it’s camouflaged well, so we think that we are Polly Pure Heart. We’re not any better than the guy down the street who’s got a lot of overt sins. God sees the heart, and He knows what’s really going on. All sins were paid for by Christ on the Cross.

Slide 30

In John 6:47, Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has eternal life.” It’s an eternal possession. Period. Over and out. He doesn’t say, “He who believes in Me and stays with it.” There are no conditions attached. “He who believes in Me has eternal life.”

Slide 31

Jude 1:24, “Now to Him”—that is, to God—“who is able to keep you from stumbling”—God’s omnipotence keeps you in the family of God, not your will, but His will, His power—“to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy.” God is the One who keeps you.

Slide 32

One of my favorite passages on this is Romans 8:38–39. “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life nor angels or principalities nor powers nor things present nor things to come nor height or depth nor any other created thing is able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Nothing can separate us. No decision we make, no decision somebody else makes, no act, no thought can separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus. Once we’re in Christ, we are locked down forever.

Slide 33

In John 10:28, Jesus said, “… and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish”—dogmatic assertion—“and no one shall snatch them out of My hand.” God’s grip is absolute and omnipotent.

Closing Prayer

“Father, we thank You for the certainty we have of our salvation, recognizing that Jesus Christ paid the penalty for our sins. He paid the penalty and it was paid in full because You knew every single sin each of us would ever commit. You didn’t forget one. Every single sin was nailed to the Cross. Every single sin was paid for. The issue is not our sins. The issue is, do we trust in Jesus or not? Once we trust in Him, at that instant, we are made new creatures in Christ. We have all these things happen. You’re not someone who will give it to us one second and the next day take it back. It’s irreversible, this new creation. Father, we are so thankful for that.

“Father, we pray for those who listen today, that if they’ve never trusted in Christ that they would come to understand the vital necessity of taking care of this eternal issue, that we have no guarantee that we will be alive in two hours. We have no guarantee that we will be alive in three days. We have no guarantee that we will be alive in ten years. We need to trust in Christ now, believe that He died for us. That’s all that’s required for eternal life because Jesus paid it all.

“Once we trust, we realize that we are not our own even though we may think we are. We’re not our own, but we are Yours. We become Your possession, and we are sealed by the Holy Spirit, and we are to live for You as Your slaves and Your servants because we were saved for good works, as we’ll see in Ephesians 2:10.

“Father, we pray that You will challenge each of us with the truth of Your Word. In Christ’s name, amen.”