Can You Continue?

                “Well,” Steve stated Tuesday morning, “where are we going today?”

                “I was thinking we could go to Meridian,” I replied.

                “Well I’m ready if you are,” Felicity stated.

                “Good evening,” Ed greeted us as we entered the church that evening.

                “Good evening,” I replied. “How are you doing?”

                “Good,” Ed replied.

                We talked for several minutes, until the prelude began.

                “Well good evening,” Brother Matthew Kurtz began after the opening.

                “Good evening,” the audience replied.

                “I see I taught you well,” he stated. “My topic tonight is ‘If Ye Continue’. Today in the Church there are two extremes: one that says you can live however you want and you’re still guaranteed Heaven; and those who say, ‘You’d better watch it! You might lose your salvation!’

                “Now, both sides feel led by the Holy Spirit; both sides believe the Bible; both sides have many verses; and both sides have very convincing arguments. As Brother Yoder, I believe, mentioned, just as there’s no clear-cut verse that tells us when the Rapture will occur, so there is not a verse that boldly declares, ‘You are eternally saved and cannot lose your salvation.’   

                “BUT:” Matthew hastened to add, “just as with the Pre-Tribulational view, one must study carefully in order to correctly understand the Bible.

                “Turn with me to Colossians 1:21-23. Colossians 1:21-23:

                “‘And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;

                “Paul is talking to believers here and is discussing Christ’s redemptive work on the cross. And then, all of a sudden, Paul throws in this phrase ‘If ye continue’. What does that mean? Can we lose our salvation?

                “‘Well, you see,’ says one side, ‘this passage alone tells you you can lose your salvation.’ And just to make matters worse, these people will take you to Acts 1:25, where it mentions ‘Judas, by transgression fell”. Or one of their favorite passages is Ezekiel 18:26, ‘When a righteous man turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and dieth in them; for his iniquity that he hath done shall he die.’  Or another pet passage is the overcomer verses in Revelation 2, 3, and 21:7. They’ll show you all of these and then say, ‘You see? This proves it: We can lose our salvation and therefore we must be faithful—or else!’

                “Well, before you panic,” Brother Kurtz stated, “let’s take a look at these passages and compare them to other passages these people seem to forget or at least overlook.

                “Let’s start here in our text, Colossians 1:23,” Matthew continued. “Paul says that Christ has reconciled us through His death, to ‘present [us] holy and unblameable and unreprovable in his sight: If [we] continue in the faith…’ Well, I don’t know about you, but I happened to notice that Paul says Christ presents us ‘holy and unblameable and unreprovable in his sight’ if we continue in the faith and aren’t ‘moved away from the hope of the gospel’. In other words, Paul is saying Christ presents us holy and all of these things if we continue in the faith; and if we don’t continue, then we will be ashamed and won’t be unblameable.

                “Now let’s look at Acts chapter 1,” Matthew continued. “This is after all the Resurrection and Ascension and all of that. The disciples are all gathered in this place and, starting in verse 15, Peter speaks up and discusses the issue of the missing apostle, because, as he says in verse 25, ‘That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.’ Now, once again, you must compare verses. Several times in John, you see hints about Judas’ real faith. John chapter six, verse 64, ‘But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.’ John 6:70-71, ‘Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.’ John 12:4-6, ‘Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.’ Several times in John 13, Jesus speaks of Judas: John 13:11, ‘he knew who should betray him’; verse 18, ‘I speak not of you all.’ The Bible makes it very clear: Judas wasn’t saved to begin with. So yeah, he fell, but he didn’t fall far. ‘Many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name we cast out devils? and in thy name did many wonderful works?’ What does Jesus say? ‘I never knew you.’ He doesn’t say, ‘I used to know you’; He says, ‘I never knew you’.

                “What about Ezekiel 18:26?” Matt asked. “Well, let’s turn to Ezekiel 18:26 and look at it. ‘When a righteous man turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and dieth in them; for his iniquity that he hath done shall he die.’ If we turn to Ezekiel 33:13, ‘When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it.’ It would be obvious (or at least it should be) that these people are relying on their own strength; in John 6:66, many of Jesus’ disciples ‘went back, and walked no more with him.’ They weren’t saved; they followed Jesus because He fed them and healed them. So yeah, again, they fell, but they didn’t fall far. This is what Ezekiel would be talking about.

                “Turn to Revelation chapter 2,” Matthew stated. “Starting in verse seven, ‘He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.’ Or verse 26, ‘And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. And I will give him the morning star. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.’ And chapter 3, verse 5, ‘He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.’ And Revelation 21:7, ‘He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.’ All of these passages talk about overcoming and some people say, ‘Well, you see? That proves it! We can lose our salvation; therefore, we must remain faithful, or we might not get into Heaven.’

                “Well, again, before you panic, let’s turn to 1st John 5:4-5,” Brother Matt stated. “1st John 5:4-5:

                “‘For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

                “John makes it pretty clear, those who are saved, not just professing, but those who are saved are the overcomers. That’s not twisting Scripture; it’s comparing Scripture.

                “Let’s take a look at a couple of verses that also tell us that we are saved once and for all,” Matthew continued. “1st Corinthians 1:8 says, ‘Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ ‘Confirm you unto the end’, interesting. How about 2nd Corinthians 1:21-22, ‘Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.’ Or Ephesians 4:30: ‘And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.’ I’m just skipping around. There’s many verses that stated very clearly that we cannot lose our salvation.

                “What about ‘everlasting life’ in John 5:24, 6:40, and John 6:47? What about ‘eternal life’ in Titus 1:2 and John 3:15 and 16? It isn’t very everlasting or eternal if I have it today and fifteen minutes later I lose it.”

                Several clapped.

                “Now does that mean we can live how we want?” Matt asked. “Well no, of course not. Romans 6:1-2 says, ‘What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?’ Verses 14 and 15 of the same chapter: ‘For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.’ Or 1st Corinthians 6:20, which says that we’re bought with a price, therefore, we’re to ‘glorify God in your spirit, and your body, which are God’s.

                “1st Corinthians 7:23 says, ‘Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.’ I want to draw special attention to this passage,” Matthew stated. “As many of you know, 1st Corinthians 7 is often called the marriage chapter. You know, Ephesians 5:32 says, ‘This is a great mystery; but I speak concerning Christ and the church.’ God likens marriage to salvation, and if you think about it, there are many parallels between the two. But one I’d like to point out: God hates divorce. ‘They twain shall be one flesh’; ‘What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.’ As God hates divorce, why in the world would God allow for us to divorce Him—or for God to divorce us?”

                Several clapped; a few shouted amen.

                “So no, we cannot lose our salvation, but that does not give us license to live as we please. Galatians 5:13 says, ‘For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.’ As Brother Yoder mentioned, we want to live so that ‘when he shall appear, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before him at his coming.’

                “1st John 5:11-13,” Matthew concluded, and read:

                “‘And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.’”

                And by the way—the closing song this evening was Blessed Assurance.        


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