“What is your reading of it?”

Friday, November 30, 2018

Jesus made it very clear that salvation faith is by entering the “narrow gate and difficult path” (Matt. 7:13–14). We do that by choice. But many, under the seduction of an easy belief in Jesus, but not necessarily believing Him (John 3:36), or just being morally good, or fortunate enough to be predestined, or doing the best one can, erroneously conclude that they have eternal life.

Many sincerely believe that if they attend or work in church or small group, they’ve done their duty and mentally check the “I’m saved” box. But they are sincerely wrong. They measure by feelings of churchy performance, happiness and acceptance in those venues as to whether or not their soul has confidence of eternal life. The measure used is quite deceptive and departs from the “first count the cost” (Luke 14:28) measure as clearly set forth by the Lord Jesus Christ.

I will not forget a man, a church worker I met over a meal. As is my custom, I try to work into such meetings God’s salvation by faith, to which he replied, “Yes, one of the greatest things I learned from my pastor was that it wasn’t my choice”. I was profoundly saddened for that man, for his confession revealed his captivity to the Calvinist predestined heresy. In his mind he had somehow made God’s predestined list without his will ever being involved. That’s impossible!

By the Calvinist’s own belief, he cannot be certain of his own salvation since he’s never seen God’s predestined list of the saved and doomed. It’s fatalistic! But here’s what God said: “For whom He foreknew, [with strong emphasis thereon] He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29). We must never separate God’s Word “predestined” from His “foreknowledge”! Just because God “foreknew” all things, even the sparrow that falls from a tree, does NOT mean that God willed, or “predestined” that sparrow or man to life or death!

In the Scriptures Jesus encountered a certain lawyer who was, like many today, looking to check a box of justifying himself as having eternal life, and asked, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 19:25). Jesus said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?” And the lawyer answered Jesus, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27). And Jesus said, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live”. But the lawyer “wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’” (Luke 10:29).

You know the account. Jesus made it clear that everyone is our neighbor. And on the believer’s behalf his ability to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself”, requires a weighed, thoughtful and surrendered act of one’s own will. We were not created robotic, but were given our own will.

True salvation faith and love for God does not defend self-willed beliefs, nor defends traditions of men that make God’s Word “of no effect” (Mark 7:13). Love for God and fellowman does not sugar-coat hard truths that otherwise have power to convert the rebellious traditions-bound heart to actually believe what Jesus taught. It does not protect and soften the blow of a broken will by falling upon the Rock of Christ in humble self-denial, repentance and confession unto salvation. Similarly, love for a child does not protect it from correction for self-willed wrongs.

Jesus said: “Whoever falls on that stone [an act of ones will] will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder” (Luke 20:18). By one’s own choice he will either fall upon the Rock of Christ in humble repentance and brokenness to love God and neighbor as oneself, or that Rock will one day crush the deceived. Religious political correctness so prevalent today silences the difficult teachings of Christ that oppose the flesh and traditions of men, with the testimony of Jesus often being subverted to make true faith appear an easy event. But that is not love for God.

From Christ, our great commission as Christians, is to “make disciples of all nations…teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded” (Matt. 28:19–20). That’s not for the faint, but requires a greater love for God and His Word than people’s feelings. Leading people to faith in Christ and making disciples of them is our mandate, but to not then prepare people to endure the times of the end according to what Jesus taught, and their end is offense and hating one another just as Jesus Christ forewarned at (Matt. 24:10), of what good, then, was our discipleship!

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6)? If we truly believe that, we will accordingly teach His end-time message without regard for traditions. Yet ministers protect their dispensational pre-trib rapture tradition that opposes Jesus’ testimony. That’s not love for God or fellowman, but shows partiality and contempt for God and His Word, and for one’s neighbor.

Knowing and teaching the full counsel of God’s Word is vital to bearing fruit, not just now but in the seven-year tribulation to come. If one doesn’t know the testimony of Jesus for the time of the end, how can he or she be effective in helping to prepare others who need to also be prepared to endure the end? If we love God and our neighbor, we will equip ourselves and our neighbor in Jesus Christ’s truths relevant to the end-times, otherwise we become fruitless hypocrites.

One of the promises of God says, “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He [the Father] takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit” (John 15:2). Bearing fruit to the truths of Jesus for the time of the end is vital, and proves that we love God and neighbor. Non-disclosure, however, of the “narrow gate and difficult path” and the time of the end proves that one’s love is misplaced, even absent from God and our neighbor.

When mankind fell, God’s assessment of man was not “Total Depravity” as falsely claimed by Calvin-followers, for God said of fallen mankind, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil” (Gen. 3:22), which destroys Calvinism’s claim that man has no ability to choose between right and wrong, good and evil, God or Satan. Fallen mankind has a will, and by that will has the ability to positively accept, or negatively reject the gospel clearly revealed from Genesis to Revelation. Anyone who teaches otherwise is a false teacher. Period. And I encourage you in the love of Christ to completely disassociate yourself from the teachings of Calvinism.

I further encourage you to disassociate yourself from the dispensational pre-trib rapture lie from hell arrayed against you to make you unprepared from enduring to the end. Not a single verse of Scripture affirms the pre-tribulation rapture which is wholly based on assumption, conjecture and wishful thinking. You can correct that by believing the uncompromised testimony of Christ.

Marlin J. Yoder

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About the author

I'm a non-denominational ordained minister, and have written TheFridayLetter.com for many years and teach the truths of Jesus Christ with an emphasis on the end-times. This on-line and in-person ministry to which God called me helps many people to know the truths of Christ rather than traditions of men which make "the word of God of no effect" (Mark 7:13).

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