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My friend Felecia Clarke posed this question on Facebook last week, and I decided to borrow it for my Friday Q&A. It’s a great question, and I would love for you all to give your insight too.

By the way, I highly recommend you check out (or better follow) her blog - A Life Sanctified
You can also follow Felecia on twitter, which is where we first met: @alifesanctified

Question:

We seem to purport a "once saved - always saved" mentality; but will that alone get someone into Heaven? If we receive the salvation of Christ and then never obey God's command - surely He will say to us at judgment, "I never knew you."

And what about most "Christians" who struggle with complete surrender? Are we doomed to Hell?

Pre-Answer:

To start, let me just say that these were the particular Red Letters from a sermon about the rich young ruler, culminating in Jesus’ strong words in the sermon on the mount, “I never knew you” that drew me from my religious darkness into the glorious light of relationship with Father. I can’t say it was fear that rose up in me, but a realization that though I espoused a personal relationship with God, I did not actually have any such relationship. Though I scoffed at “religion” as a way to the Father, I nevertheless was counting on my religious deeds and lack of bad works to gain me entrance to the Father’s house. The startling revelation that this rich young man who kept the commandments to the best of his ability, but held his life as his own, broke the heart of our Savior, and left him outside the kingdom, brought me to the realization that “I was that man.” Teaching Sunday school and leading Church groups may have been what God intended for me to do, but first I needed to know, and be known.

Answer:

That said, now to the question at hand.

I have heard more than one person defend their sinful life style and their future in heaven because they prayed a prayer in a church, which majored on assurance of salvation. One young man, who was living a life of promiscuity declared to me that he was going to heaven. I asked him how he could ever think such a thing and he told me with complete confidence of his Sunday school prayer. The only thing he had faith in was this one doctrine of eternal security. That prayer, would save him. He knew nothing of Calvary love, or being buried with Christ, and being raised up in newness of life. The breath of life had never entered his un-regenerate soul, and he had no relationship, nor did he feel any accountability to the One whose name he took in vain every time he referred to himself as Christian.

I told this young man of that great city Nineveh which repented under Jonah, and was given a reprieve, but then a little over a century later was worse than ever, and suffered judgment without warning under the ministry of the prophet Nahum. It is a striking story.

Do I believe that you can lose your salvation? No, I don't think God will ever leave you or forsake you, but much of what we call Christianity, in our culture, is nothing like the saving faith that will carry you into the arms of the Lover of your Soul.

Many have left the word “Christian” of late due to negative connotations in the popular culture, and it has been replaced by Jesus lover, or Christ follower. I am good with those, but I find myself, particularly in writing, referring to folks as in a "covenant relationship with Jesus Christ.” I see this idea of being the bride of Christ as central to my understanding of what it means to have a relationship with God.

I see this walk of the Christian walk as a progression from our first meeting of Christ, where we take the identity of “slave” or “servant” or “bond slave” or even “love slave” of Christ. I don’t think we ever leave this status, as you can learn from so many of the writers of the New Testament refereeing to themselves as servant of Christ. The next step in our progression might be friend, then son of God and brother of Jesus, and finally as Bride, and partner in relationship and ministry with the Lover of our Souls.

Those who know nothing of relationship – any stage of relationship – can really not expect to be greeted by any other words than, “I never knew you.” However, you would have to know very little of scripture to think that a faith that falters now and then excludes you from the kingdom. We see if from the earliest days of faith of any kind. From Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Lot, David etc., right through to Peter and Paul contenting with one another, and Paul leaving Barnabas and going off with others.

So – to sum up – I do believe that once you are in a covenant relationship with Jesus Christ, it is for keeps, and I do not believe that failings of the faithful put them in jeopardy of hell fire.

Hope that helps.

Hey – do you have another opinion? I would love to hear it and consider your take on these matters.

Ben NelsonShare please

Thanks for coming by.

Ben

This week we have been talking a bit about Jesus getting out of the boat on the far shore of the Sea of Galilee.

One reader pointed out to me that Matthew has two demon possessed guys, and Mark and Luke only talk about one.

The question is clear – is it one or two and why the difference?

And when He had come to the other side into the country of the Gadarenes, two men who were demon-possessed met Him as they were coming out of the tombs; they were so exceedingly violent that no one could pass by that road. And behold, they cried out, saying, “What do we have to do with You, Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?” ~ Matthew 8:28-29

And when He had come out of the boat, immediately a man from the tombs with an unclean spirit met Him, ~ Mark 5:2

And when He had come out onto the land, He was met by a certain man from the city who was possessed with demons; and who had not put on any clothing for a long time, and was not living in a house, but in the tombs. ~ Luke 8:27

That’s an easy one –  Matthew was after all a tax collector and those guys knew how to count! – Just kidding

But seriously folks, I sit in meetings and take notes every day at work. I will sit there with a couple of my colleagues and take detailed notes. One of the reasons I take careful notes when I am interested, or the content is important, is that I know we all observe things from completely different perspectives. Sometimes I am amazed that we can both listen to the exact same people saying the exact same thing, and we all hear completely different details. To the point where I will argue my side, then go back to the source and find out I was completely wrong.

It is amazing how differently we see things.

In this case my assumption is that Jesus interacted with one of the men in detail and the interview with the demonic hoard revolved around only one of the men, though this army of demons may have inhabited both.

It may be that only one wanted to join Jesus’ band, or one was more notably frightening.

Do you have a better explanation?

Share it with us, will you?

Ben NelsonSee you again soon. Don’t miss our study of the Song of Songs tomorrow.

See you then.

Ben

4

This week we have been talking a bit about Jesus getting out of the boat on the far shore of the Sea of Galilee.

One reader pointed out to me that Matthew has two demon possessed guys, and Mark and Luke only talk about one.

The question is clear – is it one or two and why the difference?

And when He had come to the other side into the country of the Gadarenes, two men who were demon-possessed met Him as they were coming out of the tombs; they were so exceedingly violent that no one could pass by that road. And behold, they cried out, saying, “What do we have to do with You, Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?” ~ Matthew 8:28-29

And when He had come out of the boat, immediately a man from the tombs with an unclean spirit met Him, ~ Mark 5:2

And when He had come out onto the land, He was met by a certain man from the city who was possessed with demons; and who had not put on any clothing for a long time, and was not living in a house, but in the tombs. ~ Luke 8:27

That’s an easy one –  Matthew was after all a tax collector and those guys knew how to count! – Just kidding

But seriously folks, I sit in meetings and take notes every day at work. I will sit there with a couple of my colleagues and take detailed notes. One of the reasons I take careful notes when I am interested, or the content is important, is that I know we all observe things from completely different perspectives. Sometimes I am amazed that we can both listen to the exact same people saying the exact same thing, and we all hear completely different details. To the point where I will argue my side, then go back to the source and find out I was completely wrong.

It is amazing how differently we see things.

In this case my assumption is that Jesus interacted with one of the men in detail and the interview with the demonic hoard revolved around only one of the men, though this army of demons may have inhabited both.

It may be that only one wanted to join Jesus’ band, or one was more notably frightening.

Do you have a better explanation?

Share it with us, will you?

Ben NelsonSee you again soon. Don’t miss our study of the Song of Songs tomorrow.

See you then.

Ben

Last weekend I found myself engaged in an interesting discussion with a new acquaintance on twitter. He (or she – this fact is not revealed in the twitter profile) is an atheist and took issue with a post I put up.

I thought I would share the conversation with you all, and allow us all to toss it about a bit.

Remember, please keep the Friday Q&A rules in any comments you make or I will have to delete them. The rules are:

Be polite.
Be honest.
Be gentle.
Be friendly.

Here is the conversation. (@MrBnd is my twitter name – please join me over there and say Hi, if you are a twit too!) I am going to leave my new friend’s ID out so as not to antagonize him/her, but I will shoot him a note so he can join us if he wants to.

@MrBnd: But everybody who hears these words of mine and doesn't put them into practice will be like a fool who built a house on sand. ~ Jesus (CEB)

@NewFriend: Oh dear (with this picture posted)

@MrBnd: Guess we best avoid derisive heart attitudes and mocking words - I sure need a Savior!

@NewFriend: Jesus seems to have blown it though! According to your tweet.

@MrBnd: I am not sure giving instruction on how to avoid foolishness is the same as calling someone a fool - i am glad for the wisdom

@NewFriend: So the people that did not put his words into practice are what? Or has everyone ever, always put his words into practice?

@MrBnd: I could tell you it is foolish to smoke, You can decide how to behave. I have not called you a fool, just shared wisdom

@NewFriend: Yes of course. Silly me. But wait! Maybe not so silly me. Given the word 'foolish' was not used. So answer my previous question.

@MrBnd: "like a fool" - aka foolish - I suppose neither of us is going to change opinions here, but thanks for the dialog

@NewFriend: exactly 'like a fool' therefore, those not "putting words into practice" are, by definition, fools. So who's right, Jesus or Matthew?

That is the extent of our conversation. I had to be elsewhere and did not come back to it later.

Here are some further thoughts of mine.

First, I don’t feel I need to defend Jesus. His words are Truth, and if I don’t get them on first pass, rather than pick at the words and set them up as reasons to be offended with Him, I assume the short fall is somewhere in my heart or mind. There is plenty that I don’t get yet, and there are depths and layers to Jesus’ words that I can not fathom.

Jesus’ discourse in John 6 about the Bread of Life is a perfect example. He says to the crowd and the disciples some things in a manner which made Him sound like a crazy person – you must eat My flesh and drink My blood if you want to be My disciples. Not only did it make Jesus sound a bit crazy, anyone who would follow Him had to be suspect too!.

In the end of this discourse He turns to the boys and says “does this offend you?” (John 6:61)

A few verses farther down the page we have this

You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” ~ John 6:67-69

So I have two thoughts rumbling around in my head in regard to the conversation above.

First about the process of questioning Jesus’ words – does it make me a non-thinker because I accept something I do not understand. This is what my friends profile expounds, that because there are things that are in tension in scripture, you have to turn your brain off to believe.

To this I would have to honestly answer that the most intelligent person on the planet probably knows less than 1% of all there is no know even of the natural realm in which we spend most of our time, and I am not that guy. There is so much more to the natural that I don’t understand that I could learn new things every minute of every day and still not reach the 1% mark.

Now add to that all that goes on in other realms – i.e. in the spirit realm – and, well, there is just some stuff I don’t know.

My friend’s profile actually states “it’s a sad day when you don’t learn something new.” Clearly he and I agree here. Neither of us know everything, else why would we both want to learn something new every day?

Now to the second part – the actual discussion about what Jesus said, contrasting His comments:

Is it hypocrisy to on the one hand say:

Don’t ever call someone a fool.

And on the other say:

You are a fool if you …

The “don’t call someone a fool” was in the context of an outburst of anger or insult, and would be like when my mother said to me growing up “don’t call your brother stupid.” It is not that people are not stupid, or fools, it is just not your job to point it out to them. It dishonors them.

On the other hand, any time someone smarter, or wiser than I wants to point out to me what actions I might be taking – what path I might be walking that make me out to be a fool – have at it. I would love to learn from other’s folly, rather than my own.

Well – I see I have gone way to long on this post, but now it is your turn.

What do you think?

Ben NelsonThanks much for coming by today. I really appreciate you!

See you tomorrow for SoS Saturday.

Ben

4

Last weekend I found myself engaged in an interesting discussion with a new acquaintance on twitter. He (or she – this fact is not revealed in the twitter profile) is an atheist and took issue with a post I put up.

I thought I would share the conversation with you all, and allow us all to toss it about a bit.

Remember, please keep the Friday Q&A rules in any comments you make or I will have to delete them. The rules are:

Be polite.
Be honest.
Be gentle.
Be friendly.

Here is the conversation. (@MrBnd is my twitter name – please join me over there and say Hi, if you are a twit too!) I am going to leave my new friend’s ID out so as not to antagonize him/her, but I will shoot him a note so he can join us if he wants to.

@MrBnd: But everybody who hears these words of mine and doesn't put them into practice will be like a fool who built a house on sand. ~ Jesus (CEB)

@NewFriend: Oh dear (with this picture posted)

@MrBnd: Guess we best avoid derisive heart attitudes and mocking words - I sure need a Savior!

@NewFriend: Jesus seems to have blown it though! According to your tweet.

@MrBnd: I am not sure giving instruction on how to avoid foolishness is the same as calling someone a fool - i am glad for the wisdom

@NewFriend: So the people that did not put his words into practice are what? Or has everyone ever, always put his words into practice?

@MrBnd: I could tell you it is foolish to smoke, You can decide how to behave. I have not called you a fool, just shared wisdom

@NewFriend: Yes of course. Silly me. But wait! Maybe not so silly me. Given the word 'foolish' was not used. So answer my previous question.

@MrBnd: "like a fool" - aka foolish - I suppose neither of us is going to change opinions here, but thanks for the dialog

@NewFriend: exactly 'like a fool' therefore, those not "putting words into practice" are, by definition, fools. So who's right, Jesus or Matthew?

That is the extent of our conversation. I had to be elsewhere and did not come back to it later.

Here are some further thoughts of mine.

First, I don’t feel I need to defend Jesus. His words are Truth, and if I don’t get them on first pass, rather than pick at the words and set them up as reasons to be offended with Him, I assume the short fall is somewhere in my heart or mind. There is plenty that I don’t get yet, and there are depths and layers to Jesus’ words that I can not fathom.

Jesus’ discourse in John 6 about the Bread of Life is a perfect example. He says to the crowd and the disciples some things in a manner which made Him sound like a crazy person – you must eat My flesh and drink My blood if you want to be My disciples. Not only did it make Jesus sound a bit crazy, anyone who would follow Him had to be suspect too!.

In the end of this discourse He turns to the boys and says “does this offend you?” (John 6:61)

A few verses farther down the page we have this

You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” ~ John 6:67-69

So I have two thoughts rumbling around in my head in regard to the conversation above.

First about the process of questioning Jesus’ words – does it make me a non-thinker because I accept something I do not understand. This is what my friends profile expounds, that because there are things that are in tension in scripture, you have to turn your brain off to believe.

To this I would have to honestly answer that the most intelligent person on the planet probably knows less than 1% of all there is no know even of the natural realm in which we spend most of our time, and I am not that guy. There is so much more to the natural that I don’t understand that I could learn new things every minute of every day and still not reach the 1% mark.

Now add to that all that goes on in other realms – i.e. in the spirit realm – and, well, there is just some stuff I don’t know.

My friend’s profile actually states “it’s a sad day when you don’t learn something new.” Clearly he and I agree here. Neither of us know everything, else why would we both want to learn something new every day?

Now to the second part – the actual discussion about what Jesus said, contrasting His comments:

Is it hypocrisy to on the one hand say:

Don’t ever call someone a fool.

And on the other say:

You are a fool if you …

The “don’t call someone a fool” was in the context of an outburst of anger or insult, and would be like when my mother said to me growing up “don’t call your brother stupid.” It is not that people are not stupid, or fools, it is just not your job to point it out to them. It dishonors them.

On the other hand, any time someone smarter, or wiser than I wants to point out to me what actions I might be taking – what path I might be walking that make me out to be a fool – have at it. I would love to learn from other’s folly, rather than my own.

Well – I see I have gone way to long on this post, but now it is your turn.

What do you think?

Ben NelsonThanks much for coming by today. I really appreciate you!

See you tomorrow for SoS Saturday.

Ben

A couple weeks ago, I posed a questions about what "vain faith" was, and i wanted to come back to it and bring some resolution.

I wanted to circle back and touch it one more time. I was not happy with where it all landed last time, and have a bit more light on it now. It was one of those - Oh - that makes sense moments for me, and i just thought i would share it with you.

Here is the main verse I was puzzling over:

Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:1-2

What I had missed was this verse a bit farther down the page.:

 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:13-14

Now in my study, I have found many who want to make the first reference one of working hard so your faith is not ignored in the grand scheme of things, but when i read this second part, i see that the "unless you believed in vain" in verse 2 is a foreshadowing of his argument in vs 14 where he comes right out and says: If Christ is not raised from the dead then your faith is vain.

Vain faith is faith that is placed in something that is worthless. Vain faith is misplaced faith or misplaced trust.

Faith in Christ is a gift of God - every man is dealt a measure of faith by God, as we are told in Romans 12:3

So how could faith that God has given in the first place, when it is place in Christ, the most secure foundations, ever be vain?

It could not.

If your life shows no fruit after a period of time, the question is not whether you have vain faith, but rather, do you have faith in Christ at all.

So - there you go.

What do you think?

Ben NelsonSee you again soon. I should be back to the pen (well - keys) next week. Thanks to you all for coming by and checking out my parade of favorites this week.

Ben

 

 

Peaceable Kingdom - Edward Hicks

Deborah asks:

I have a question for tomorrow studying Hosea 2. Do you think that verse 18 is not only referring to the natural but also the spiritual realm of warfare?

shalom, shalom

Deborah

Wow Deborah!

What a great question.

I have to say, as I have said before, I am not a scholar by any means.

Here is the text Deborah is asking about – with a little bit extra on either side.

And it will come about in that day,” declares the LORD, “That you will call Me Ishi And will no longer call Me Baali. For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, So that they will be mentioned by their names no more. In that day I will also make a covenant for them With the beasts of the field, The birds of the sky, And the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, And will make them lie down in safety. And I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, In lovingkindness and in compassion, ~ Hosea 2:16-19

When I read this, I am thinking we are talking as yet unfulfilled prophecy. This is not something that I believe has come to pass as yet.

The Lord is pointing to a day in the future. What is sometimes called the Peaceable kingdom.

So Deborah’s question is does this mean actual animals at peace with one another, some cessation of spiritual warfare, or I might add a third choice – both.

Generally speaking I don’t hold strongly to any one view of end times at this point. I have just not studied it enough to be convinced one way or another. Actually, my problem may be the opposite of that. I was convinced, and then I studied from a different point of view and was convinced again – and then --- well you get the idea. There are many ways to read these scriptures.

So will there be a time in heaven or on earth when wars will cease and animals will get along.

Yep, I believe so.

I get the sense that was the case in the garden with Adam and Eve, which was an expression of a time with men and no sin. There was however that old serpent even then, stirring things up.

There are other accounts (2 in Isaiah – Ch 11 and 65) where the animals are getting along.

I love that this talk of peace is sandwiched in bridal language – Vs 16 – you will call me man not master – or perhaps  - husband not master. And in vs 19 – I will betroth you to me forever.

One more thing for you all to ponder. I am a firm believer in breaking through dispensations.

What I mean by breaking through dispensations is doing like the Syrophonecian woman did with Jesus, where He said, "I can’t heal the gentile dog because at this time I am here for the Jews." (really loose paraphrase therefore not in red)

She was like – I want it now – I can’t wait for the cross – my daughter is going to kill herself before that – and she would not take no for an answer.

How is it with you. Are you hoping for a day of peace? Spiritual – Natural – Political? Pull it forward – press in – Ask Seek Knock and not just a little. Knock for all our are worth.

Ben NelsonHappy Friday

Have a great day

Ben

4

My friend Cheryl from Burning Fire Shut Up In My Bones just posted a wonderful collection of scripture and thoughts asking and answering the most important question of all:

Who do you say that I am? ~ Jesus

A long time ago, Jesus asked the disciples a question. I don’t think they really understood how important that question was, until, suddenly, like the flash of a bolt of lightning from the sky, one of them was given a revelation. To know the answer to that question still requires revelation to this day. Yes, anyone can repeat the answer, but when you are asked this question, don’t just answer with your head, say aloud what you believe in your heart

Read More

Who do you say He is? | Burning Fire Shut Up In My Bones.

My friend Cheryl from Burning Fire Shut Up In My Bones just posted a wonderful collection of scripture and thoughts asking and answering the most important question of all:

Who do you say that I am? ~ Jesus

A long time ago, Jesus asked the disciples a question. I don’t think they really understood how important that question was, until, suddenly, like the flash of a bolt of lightning from the sky, one of them was given a revelation. To know the answer to that question still requires revelation to this day. Yes, anyone can repeat the answer, but when you are asked this question, don’t just answer with your head, say aloud what you believe in your heart

Read More

Who do you say He is? | Burning Fire Shut Up In My Bones.

Lucifer, by William Blake, for Dante's Inferno...
Lucifer, by William Blake, for Dante's Inferno, canto 34 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My new friend Felicia from http://www.alifesanctified.com/ has asked another great question this week.

Q. Since God is omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent; why did He create Satan?

I love this question. And it even has some hooks to the question we played with this morning.

Perhaps I am wrong, but I have a feeling there is a fairly widely held belief that Angels were created with no free will.

We talk in Christian circles as though angels are heaven’s robots.

Or perhaps we have an upstairs – downstairs kind of impression of angels. Like they are the servant class creation, serving the needs of humans.

But I believe scriptures teach a different truth. I believe that angels are beings with a will, and with the freedom of choice much as man is. (ok – if you missed the first Q&A today, you might want to go back to it here, where I discussed the free will of man.)

You see, the way I see it, if angels did not have free will, they would not have been able to rebel in the first place – would they?

Remember God did not create an angry vengeful devil in a red suit who started his existence as an evil beast.

Lucifer was a wonderful angel of light – the head of all the angels.

How you are fallen from heaven,
O Lucifer, son of the morning!
How you are cut down to the ground,
You who weakened the nations!
For you have said in your heart:
‘I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;
I will also sit on the mount of the congregation
On the farthest sides of the north;
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,
I will be like the Most High.’
Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol,
To the lowest depths of the Pit ~ Isaiah 14:12-15 (NKJV)

He exalted himself in pride and wanted to be like God. Hmmm – sounds familiar doesn’t it – pretty much the same temptation he threw at Adam and Eve.

So we come back to - Why did God create a being that  - if He knows everything, end from the beginning and all – He knew full well would make a mess of things?

Based on my assumption that angels are free beings with choice, and options, you can see that this is a lot like saying why create Hitler, or Bin Laden, or my crabby neighbor, or – well – me for that matter. Where do you draw the line?

Thank God that He did not draw the line. Instead He planted a cross, the plan where by all of the above could have relationship restored (with the exception of Lucifer, I am pretty sure it was too late for him by the time we get to the garden.)

So what do you think? How would you answer Felicia’s question?

Join in below, or blog about it and leave us a link!

Ben NelsonThanks for stopping by today.

See you again soon.

Ben

By the way, if you have questions of your own, click on the link on the right and let us toss them around a bit.