13 But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them (2 Timothy 3:13–14, NKJV)
In yesterday’s Sword Tips (#1599) we learned the gospel teaches God’s people are no longer identified by their flesh, but by their faith (Romans 2:28-29). Now, let us apply what we learned. God’s word of truth informs us that the physical nation of Israel is no longer the chosen people of God. Therefore, any religious doctrine that elevates the nation of Israel to “chosen” or “promised” status is necessarily mistaken. For example, a widely held view is that Christ will return to earth and return the nation of Israel to its promised land (even though God fulfilled that promise long ago, Joshua 21:43). Scripture says we will meet the Lord in the air, not on the earth (1 Thessalonians 4:17). Another doctrine some teach says every nation will be judged by God based on how it treats the nation of Israel. The judgment of the last great day will be individual, not national (2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 20:11-15). False doctrines concerning Israel deceive many souls. Today, it is one of the nations of the world, but the word of God gives it no superior standing among the nations. Every nation is under the rule of Jesus Christ, and every person who rejects Him as Messiah is lost in sin (1 Timothy 6:15; John 8:23-24). “In every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him” (Acts 10:35).
5 And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. 6 And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. (Acts 2:5–6, NKJV)
Devout men and women need to be saved, too. At times we meet with resistance when calling religious people to hear and obey the pure gospel of Jesus Christ. The assumption is that, since a person is religiously devout (pious, God-fearing), he or she is in no need of hearing the word of God and examining themselves in light of it. It is notable that he apostles of Christ preached the first gospel sermons on Pentecost to Jews who were devoutly practiced their faith. Yet, they were sinners in need of salvation. They had consented to the murder of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The gospel convicted them of who Jesus is and of their sin against Him, and then told them what to do about it (Acts 2:22-38). Instead of relying on your religious piety to save you (it won’t), hear, believe and obey the pure gospel of Jesus Christ, like about three thousand devout souls did almost 2,000 years ago.
“You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.” (Galatians 5:4, NKJV)
Can a Christian be lost in sin after being saved in Christ? Calvinism says, “No.” Reportedly, so did Billy Graham: “Returning home with a friend that night, Mr. Graham said, he thought: “Now I’ve gotten saved. Now whatever I do can’t unsave me. Even if I killed somebody, I can’t ever be unsaved now” (nytimes.com, Feb. 21, 2018). But, the apostle Paul told Christians, “Yes.” He said an attempt to be justified by law-keeping (the law of Moses, Galatians 2:21, 3-7) would cause them to be “estranged from Christ” and “fallen from grace.” That’s clear enough. The doctrine of “once saved, always saved” gives false comfort because it does not conform to the Scriptures. Jesus warned of those who would joyfully “believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away” (Luke 8:13). Christians are told to “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God” (Hebrews 3:12). And so, we are urged to “exhort one another daily…lest any of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13). “Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience” (Hebrews 4:11). A Christian who does not repent and pray God’s forgiveness for sins committed, will not be saved (Acts 8:18-24; 1 John 1:9). The Scriptures must inform and sustain our faith.
“And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things.” (Mark 6:34, NKJV)
Teaching the gospel to the lost is an act of compassion. We do not accept the judgment that clear, decisive teaching to sinners about their sin and salvation “runs people off” and “hurts people’s feelings.” We should notice this verse occurs on the day Jesus fed 5000 men with five loaves and two fish (Mark 6:35-44). Jesus did not feed the people to gather an audience. His first act of compassion upon seeing the crowd was to “teach them many things.” At the end of the day, when the teaching was over, Jesus challenged His disciples to feed the crowd (Mark 6:35-38). His miraculous feeding of the multitude met a temporary need of the body. The gospel satisfies the eternal need of the soul. Instead of offering food in an attempt to get people interested in the gospel, let us be moved by the compassion Christ, and feed their souls with the life-giving gospel of God. We are not showing compassion when we remain silent, instead of teaching the gospel to the lost. We will be held accountable for such lack of compassion (Acts 20:26-27).
20 For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. 21 For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: “A dog returns to his own vomit,” and, “a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.” (2 Peter 2:20–22, NKJV)
This passage clearly describes a person escaping the sinful filth of the world through knowing Jesus Christ the Savior, then returning to and being overcome by sin. Yes, it is possible for a Christian to turn away from Christ and by doing so, be lost. This verse does not suggest Christ lacks the power to protect the saved. It shows that a Christian can rebel, return to sin, and consequently be lost. This verse does not teach degrees of punishment. It notes the greater privileges and responsibilities one has to God by having been saved, and then abandoning Jesus by returning to sin. The picture is horrible. The possibility is real. Therefore, strengthen yourself in the Lord and give no place to the devil (Eph. 4:27).
1 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, 2 a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always. (Acts 10:1–2, NKJV)
Cornelius was a good man. He was a man of devotion, integrity, generosity and reverence. Yet, for all this, he was a man lost in sin. He needed to hear the gospel – words from the apostle Peter by which he and all his household would be saved (Acts 10:22; 11:14). His need for salvation illustrates an important lesson for all who wish to go to heaven: A good moral life does not save a sinner from his or her sins. Only the blood of Jesus does that (Eph. 1:7). Since “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” we all need to be saved from our sin. A good moral life will not do that. Only Christ, through His gospel, saves sinners (Acts 4:12). The gospel that the apostles preached to everybody, including Cornelius, is summarized in this: “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mk. 16:16; see Acts 10:43-48).
24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin. 1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. (Romans 7:24–8:1, NKJV)
Paul is describing the lost man who is under law, under sin in verse 24. The law of Moses could not rescue him from sin’s death; it magnified the problem of sin (Rom. 7:13; 5:20). This man is “carnal, sold under sin” (Rom. 7:14). He is “dead in trespasses and sins” because sin is ruling him (Eph. 2:1-3). He is lost in sin, miserable and consumed by death (Rom. 6:23). (He was not born this way; he chose to sin, Rom. 5:12). Lost in sin, he is sin’s slave, serving sin with the flesh. The sinner can only be rescued from sin and death through Jesus Christ our Lord. There is no condemnation in Christ – thank God! The sinner puts on Christ when he is baptized into Christ (Gal. 3:26-27; Matt. 28:19). Once in Christ, he is saved from sin’s death. Now, he lives according to the Spirit of truth and serves God, no longer indulging the sins of the flesh. Are you lost? Christ will save you. Come to Jesus in faith and enter a saved relationship with Him by being baptized into Him. He is ready and willing to save you.