One thing that we as Christians must be able to understand about God's Word is that it is 'paradoxical' - meaning that it can't be understood through the human intellect alone. The problem with many doctrines present in the church today is they start with 'premises' found in the Word of God, and deductively draw conclusions from them that are not in the Word of God. We must accept as absolutely true everything the Word says even though it may seem impossible.
'Logic', although highly esteemed by many of our church forefathers through the admiration of Greek philosophers, will not empower anyone to understand the things of God. Paul wrote to the Corinthians,
"...the things of God no man knows, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things which are freely given to us of God." -1 Cor. 2:12
In other words, it is impossible to know the things of God without the Holy Spirit. There really IS a difference between the believer and the unbeliever - and that is the indwelling Holy Spirit! Without the Holy Spirit, the things of God are as abstract as 'color' to a person born blind. Those who see KNOW they can see!
Of course no one can come to God unless the Holy Spirit draws them. Every person who has ever been saved really only responded to the tugging of the Holy Spirit on their hearts. When Peter spoke on Pentecost the people were 'pricked in their hearts' and cried out to Peter, "What must we do to be saved?!' Peter's response to them was that they repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus.
Scripture then says that as many who gladly received his word were baptized. This is consistent with what John spoke of Jesus,
"But as many as received him, to them he gave power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name." -John 1:12
Of course God knows in the end who will or will not receive Him, but we also MUST believe as scripture says that He desires all to be saved. God is always presenting us with choices, and the responsibility for those choices rests on us -not Him. Our salvation begins with a choice, and our subsequent walk is also filled with choices. Of course we can't take credit for our good choices, and we can't blame God for our bad ones - but we will be held accountable nonetheless.
When it comes to our security in Christ, the ONLY way to have assurance is by the Holy Spirit. Faith is a fruit of the Spirit in our lives, and it IS the assurance of things not seen. Faith that is based in the mind instead of the heart is only presumption, which is why man made belief systems can have no true assurance of salvation.
Faith, as we discussed earlier, is not a 'work' in the sense of the Law, but it is something we must choose to walk in. As long as we abide in faith, we can be sure that nothing will ever separate us from the love of Christ... and He will keep us to the end. Unbelief however is like Israel in the wilderness turning back to Egypt in their hearts. Although God ultimately knows who will continue with Him and who will leave, He deals with us in our own time frame of reference. When God spoke through David,
"Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, and that Israel had walked in my ways!" -Psalm 81:13
He REALLY meant it! Our choices have the ability to grieve the heart of God, and even change His plans for the future. How is that possible with an ALL KNOWING God? It really doesn't matter, we should believe it anyway. When God rebuked Eli the priest for honoring his sons above Him he said,
"I said indeed that your house, and the house of your father, should walk before me forever: but now the LORD says, Be it far from me; for them that honor me I will honor, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed." -1 Samuel 2:30
Didn't God already know that Eli would fall when He said at the beginning that his house would walk before him forever? We MUST believe that to be true, BUT God always deals with us from our vantage point, not His.
In the same way at the beginning of our walk with Christ we are presented with a choice to receive Him. Once we receive Him, like Eli, we have a choice to honor Him with our bodies and lives. Our body literally IS the temple of the Holy Spirit, and scripture says,
"And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby you are sealed unto the day of redemption." -Ephesians 4:30
This is a very serious warning to believers, as Paul also told the Corinthians,
"If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple you are." -1 Cor. 3:17
This 'destruction' God warns us about is precisely what Jesus said happens to those branches who refuse to abide in Him,
"...he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned." -John 15:6
Also in His parable of the talents, the servant who buried the talent given to him and failed to produce was rebuked by the Master,
"...and cast the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." -Matthew 25:30
Speaking to believers, Paul in 1 Cor. 10 drew a parallel between those 'baptized' unto Moses at the red sea and those baptized into Christ. Even though all of Israel was 'baptized', those who later followed after evil things were destroyed.
There really is a lot at stake in our walk with God, and we should never take our salvation for granted. This was a problem for many in the early church who didn't understand the connection between Christ's atonement and everyday righteous living. Some concluded that since Christ had already paid for our sins, we were then free to do as we pleased. Paul rebuked this thinking sharply to the Galatians saying,
"But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves are found sinners, is Christ therefore the minister of sin? God forbid. For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor." -Galatians 2:17-18
This is exactly what will happen during the last days apostasy spoken of by Paul, Peter, and Jude,
"..that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils: Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron.." -1 Timothy 4:2
This can only happen when people willingly allow the cares of life to supplant their affection for Christ in spite of their conscience. When we ignore our conscience, our hearts become hardened over time. Paul explained the importance of holding a good conscience to Timothy:
"Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck.." -1 Timothy 1:19
This is why it is so important for us as believers to gather together and encourage one another in our daily walk:
"Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is still called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold steadfast the beginning of our confidence to the end." -Hebrews 3:12-13
God doesn't reject anybody... we have to reject Him! But the same faith that grafted us into the vine is also what keeps us there daily. When we are weak, He is strong. When the cares of life begin to overwhelm us, we have a Savior in JESUS. In our constant inadequacy and failings He says,
"Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in the time of need." -Hebrews 4:16
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