Examining Sola Fide

Habakkuk’s famous statement “but the just shall live by his faith [ĕmûnȃ 530]” (Hab 2:4), isn’t about faith but faithfulness as rendered correctly in some versions, “but the person of integrity will live because of his faithfulness” (NET), “but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness” (NIV). The Hebrew noun ĕmûnȃ appears about 50 times in the Old Testament and without exception, expresses faithfulness. The Greek noun pistis in “The just shall live by faith [pistis 4102]” (Rom 1:17; Gal 3:11; Heb 10:38) is wrongly translated as “faith” in accordance with the Reformer Martin Luther’s false salvation message of sola fide or faith alone.

The absurdity of sola fide becomes apparent when introduced into the context of everyday life. Take the workplace as somewhat of an example of our walk with God. Our time belongs to our employer. We abide by the company rules. We do the work we’re told to do while being dependable, honest, and faithful. We don’t always know why our employer wants us to do specific things but we trust that they know the bigger picture and how it will positively affect the overall health of the company and the community. We also know that since we’re simply doing what we’re told, we trust that our employer has our back if we were to experience any repercussions from doing an assignment. If we’re doing a good job we’ll be rewarded but if we’re doing poorly, then it can result in disciplinary action and possible termination. All of that makes perfect sense.

Now, let’s interject “faith” or “belief” as the sole requisite for employment. Employees get hired because they express belief in their employer. After getting hired many of them argue among themselves about whether they were hired because they believe the employer, or if they believe the employer because they were hired. Some even dare to claim that their employer gave them the belief they needed to get hired. They also squabble about whether they do a good job because they believe the employer, or if they believe the employer because they do a good job. Of course some claim that performance has a direct bearing on their job security but others claim Once Employed Always Employed. Therefore, when someone quits or gets let go, those that embrace OEAE have to say, “Well, I guess they never really were employed, because if they had been they would have continued to be employed. Therefore, they never truly believed the employer!”

In his letter to the Romans, Paul was expounding the gospel Jesus Christ Himself preached, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ” (Rom 1:16), “the preaching of Jesus Christ” (Rom 16:25). And the gospel Christ preached is faithful service to Him as Lord: “Who then is a faithful and wise servant” (Mat 24:45); “Well done, thou good and faithful servant” (Mat 25:21); “Who then is that faithful and wise steward” (Luk 12:42); “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much” (Luk 16:10); “Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little” (Luk 19:17); “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luk 6:46).

Paul’s statement, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe [trust] in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Rom 10:9), has been turned into a salvation formula—just call Him “Lord” from our mouths. However, Paul had already taught earlier, “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey” (Rom 6:16). We’re servants of whom we obey as Lord, not just call “Lord.”

Furthermore, Romans 10:9 must be understood within the context of its preceding quotation: “Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.” (Deu 30:12-14). Moses was prophesying about Christ’s coming as Lord, “heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth themheareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not” (Mat 7:24,26). Confessing Him as Lord is a commitment or pledge to do what He said. The pledge itself doesn’t save, faithfully keeping the pledge does.

The apostles and early church called themselves “servants,” “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ” (Rom 1:1); “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ” (Jas 1:1); “Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ” (2Pe 1:1); “Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ” (Jde 1:1). They never once called themselves “believers” but translations have been doctored to read as though they did.

We’ve been sold the lie of sola fide. And to discourage us even further from obeying the Lord, we’re told that anything we do is our own meritorious works and not faith. It’s a devious and absurd “gospel” message that assures we won’t be saved.

Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing

“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” (Mat 7:15-20).

We think we can spot wolves. We say to ourselves, “Well, if I ever come across one, I’ll be sure to stay away.” But Jesus said that the only way they can be known is “by their fruits.” This indicates just how incredibly covert they truly are. They’re so extremely convincing as sheep that we CANNOT know them by any other way. And we’re fooling ourselves if we think we can. A “corrupt tree” can only be known in that it cannot “bring forth good fruit.” Therefore, we’ll know wolves by their fruits.

Christ later applied this same analogy of trees and fruit to the Pharisees, “Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit. O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Mat 12:33-34). The mouth is to the heart what fruit is to a tree. As a tree is known by its fruit, the heart is known by the mouth. As Christ said of the Pharisees, “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad” (Mat 12:30). Anyone not with Christ—saying what He said, preaching what He preached, and teaching what He taught—is against Him.

What Jesus Christ taught about His Father God and about Himself is the truth, and anyone teaching different is wrong. Trinitarian ministers teach different. Therefore, they’re wrong. Now, all they need to do is repent and begin teaching what Jesus taught. But if they won’t, then they’re not with Him but against Him. They’re known by their fruits. Their fruits betray them as wolves.

Trinitarian ministers are warm, funny, and down-to-earth. They’re family men that love their wives and children. They invest in the lives of others and shed tears of joy and sorrow with them. They labor and serve in the church and in the community. They sing praise music and know their Bible well. They foster and adopt children. They enjoy visiting over a cup of coffee and having cookouts and gatherings. But there’s just one glaring problem—they disagree with Jesus! Wolves can seem just like sheep and in some ways even more so. They can only be known by their fruits.

Paul taught that as the serpent was in the beginning, his ministers are now, “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit [breath], which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.” (2Co 11:3-4), “Satan himself is transformed into an angel [messenger] of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness” (2Co 11:14-15). His ministers pose as messengers of truth. They’re extremely subtle and convincing.

Trinitarian ministers preach “another Jesus,” a “Jesus” that is God Himself. They deny His literal begetting by preaching that He has always existed as God. They deny that He is now 100% human by preaching the illogical claim that He is both 100% God and 100% human at the same time. They deny that His miracles were of God Himself by preaching they were of Himself as God.

Trinitarian ministers preach “another gospel,” a “gospel” of sola fide or faith alone. They deny that we can live righteously to the standard Christ commanded by preaching we’re born with an innate sin nature that prevents it. They deny faithful service to Jesus as Lord by preaching a faith confession. They deny eternal life and annihilation by preaching that man is an eternal spirit being that will always exist either in heaven or in hell.

I was a Trinitarian for almost 30 years and had plenty of amiable disagreements with them along the way. However, the dynamics changed completely once I began agreeing with Christ in contradistinction with them. And I was shocked to hear some of the things that began coming out of their mouths. If you want to put them to the test yourself—and I’m not suggesting you should—just keep pressing them to agree with Christ that His Father is His God (Mat 27:46; Mar 15:34; Jhn 20:17; Rom 15:6; 1Co 3:23,11:3; 2Co 11:31; Eph 1:3,1:17; Col 1:3; Heb 1:9; 1Pe 1:3; Rev 3:12). You’ll find out if they’re with Him or against Him. They’re known by their fruits.

The Tactics of Trinitarian Ministers

By the time of Christ and His apostles, most of God’s people had become religious to the point they wouldn’t listen but the common people would: “thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes” (Mat 11:25); “the common people heard him gladly” (Mar 12:37); “all the people were very attentive to hear him” (Luk 19:48); “all the people came early in the morning to him in the temple, for to hear him” (Luk 21:38); “the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath” (Act 13:42); “the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it” (Act 28:28). We’re living in the day Paul said would come, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables [mythos 3454]” (2Ti 4:3-4). The tactics of Trinitarian ministers keep us trusting their religious myths, away from the truth.

Because of their education, eloquence, experience, position, and prominence, the simple and trusting listen to them, “by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple” (Rom 16:18). They boast of themselves by belittling those that aren’t degreed by a seminary, “How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?” (Jhn 7:15), “Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men” (Act 4:13). They gain renown by endorsements from prominent ministers, “need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you?” (2Co 3:1).

They discourage us from understanding the Scriptures on our own. They prescribe systematic theological resources and “Christian” books that supposedly keep us heading in the right direction. They’ll say it’s great to study the Bible on our own but we need to stay within a Bible study group—a group of Trinitarians of course!

One of their favorite sayings to hamper us from learning the truth in the Scriptures is, “If it’s new it’s not true, and if it’s true it’s not new.” However, it’s only “new” because they haven’t been teaching it! Everything Jesus Christ taught is the truth: “grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (Jhn 1:17); “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (Jhn 8:32); “And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?” (Jhn 8:46); “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (Jhn 14:6); “Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice” (Jhn 18:37); “the truth is in Jesus” (Eph 4:21). If He taught it, then it’s true and it’s not new. What’s new is what they’ve been teaching, and if it’s new it’s not true!

They instill the fear of damnation to keep us loyal to them. They claim that the Trinitarian view of God is essential for salvation to essentially keep us from salvation. And because they don’t want it exposed for what it truly is, they declare that Trinitarianism isn’t open for discussion. Anyone even beginning to question it is in danger of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit for which they will never be forgiven.

They teach all kinds of false doctrines that confuse, distract, and waste our precious time from doing anything fruitful for God. They concocted the doctrines of “faith alone” and “total depravity” to hinder us from living righteously according to the standard Jesus Christ taught in His Sermon on the Mount. They fabricated the false disputes of Protestantism vs. Catholicism and Arminianism vs. Calvinism that have squandered unfathomable amounts of time and resources over hundreds of years.

They portray themselves as champions of the truth by disparaging all others as blatantly false. The Council of Nicaea used Arias’ views as obviously false to tout the Trinity as apparently true. Similarly, they love denouncing Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons to bolster a pristine impression of themselves. By contrasting with what’s glaringly false, they magnify themselves as supposedly true.

They intimidate us from ever leaving Trinitarianism. They claim “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us” (1Jo 2:19) is that those who left their local church never were truly saved, when it’s actually about false teachers that went out from the Jerusalem church, “certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls” (Act 15:24). Those that reject Trinitarianism are said to be going out to start a cult, or else joining with Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Oneness, or Unitarians. Sadly, rather than allowing themselves to be maligned for the name of Christ, many choose to stay and protect their own.

These are just a few of the many tactics used by Trinitarian ministers to keep us loyal to them and on the broad way leading to destruction. Let’s not be taken by them and their tactics. Let’s trust in the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ.

This Gospel of the Kingdom

When asked by His disciples, “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Mat 24:3), Christ’s first response was “Take heed that no man deceive you” (v. 4). His coming and the end of the world would be preceded by a vast amount of deception. But since He gave fair warning to “take heed,” therefore if we’re deceived and perish, it will be on us. And the deceivers will be many, “For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many” (v. 5). They’ll be the predominant voices teaching the Scriptures. That they’re saying “I am Christ” isn’t that they’ll be claiming to be the Christ themselves. Rather, they’ll be coming in His name, confessing that He is the Christ and epitomizing sheep completely, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Mat 7:15). There will be many and they will be extremely effective. We’ve been warned.

The Protestant message of sola fide or “faith alone” being preached in the world today isn’t the message Jesus Christ preached: “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom” (Mat 4:23); “And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom” (Mat 9:35); “Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God” (Mar 1:14); “I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also” (Luk 4:43). And it’s being taught that when Jesus foretold “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Mat 24:14), that this is being fulfilled by all the missionaries going out preaching sola fide to all people groups. But that’s not true. It’s “this gospel of the kingdom” that must be preached in all the world—the gospel of the kingdom Christ preached.

Christ’s gospel that “shall be preached in all the world for a witness [martyrion 3142] unto all nations,” will be fulfilled by His two witnesses, “And I will give power unto my two witnesses [martys 3144], and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth” (Rev 11:3). They’ll be prophets of God, “these two prophets” (v. 10), with miraculous power reminiscent of Elijah and Moses, “These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will” (v. 6). And it will take miracles of this caliber to get people to listen to the true gospel message of the kingdom.

The miracles, signs, and wonders worked by Jesus Christ and His apostles confirmed they were speaking for God and preaching the true gospel message: “the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me” (Jhn 5:36); “the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me” (Jhn 10:25); “believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him” (Jhn 10:38); “believe me for the very works’ sake” (Jhn 14:11); “Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you” (Act 2:22); “preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following” (Mar 16:20); “Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds” (2Co 12:12); “confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost” (Heb 2:3-4). It was the working of miracles that enabled the apostles to evangelize the world with the true gospel message.

Paul foretold of a time when people would be deceived to such an extent that they wouldn’t listen to the truth, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables [mythos 3454]” (2Ti 4:3-4). We’re now living in that time. People won’t listen to sound doctrine because they’re in bondage to the myths that God is three Persons, salvation is by faith, and that their hope is heaven.

Just before the end, however, two prophets of God will preach the true gospel to all the world, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world.” They’ll preach that we must live righteously to enter the kingdom, “That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Mat 5:20), that we must do what we’ve heard Christ command, “whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them … every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not” (Mat 7:24,26), “For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified” (Rom 2:13), “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only” (Jas 1:22). They will preach “this gospel of the kingdom.”

Blessed are They that Do His Commandments

From the very beginning, God has required man to keep His commandments, “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Gen 2:17). But because he disobeyed, God banned him from the tree of life, “lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever” (Gen 3:22-23). And at the very end of Scripture we read that it’s those keeping His commandments that regain access to the tree of life, “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life” (Rev 22:14). From beginning to end, eternal life has always been about keeping God’s commandments.

The false gospel of sola fide or “faith alone” concocted about 500 years ago by Martin Luther asserts that we’re saved by faith and nothing but faith. In fact, if there’s anything other than faith, including obedience to God’s commandments, then we’re not saved. Furthermore, it’s claimed that salvation under the law of Moses was by keeping God’s commandments perfectly without ever sinning. But since nobody could do it, then salvation under the law was also by faith. This is not true. There was never a requirement of utter perfection under the Old Covenant.

The animal sacrifices offered under the law by the high priest were for the people’s sins and for his own: “And Aaron shall bring the bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and shall make an atonement for himself, and for his house … and have made an atonement for himself, and for his household, and for all the congregation of Israel” (Lev 16:11,17); “And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins” (Heb 5:3); “Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s” (7:27); “the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people” (9:7).

God’s mercy isn’t for those breaking His commandments but for those keeping them, “And shewing mercy [ḥese 2617] unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments” (Exo 20:6; Deu 5:10), “the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy [ḥese 2617] with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations” (Deu 7:9).

Under the Old Covenant, God’s people were saved by living righteously in obedience to His commandments. But when they did sin, they would repent and offer an animal sacrifice that would cover it. And this is the same model under the New—as God’s people today, we must live righteously in obedience to His Son’s commandments and confess when we sin, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1Jo 1:9).

Since sola fide claims that Abraham is our example of faith or believing, therefore “faithful Abraham” (Gal 3:9 KJV, WEB, YLT) is mistranslated as “Abraham the believer” (NET), “Abraham, the man of faith” (NIV), “believing Abraham” (NKJV). But Abraham is our example of faithfulness to God in obeying His commandments, “thou hast obeyed my voice” (Gen 22:18), “Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws” (Gen 26:5).

Paul taught, “For if Abraham were justified by works [actions], he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed [trusted] God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” (Rom 4:2-3). Abraham’s “actions” were that of building altars to offer sacrifices: “there he builded an altar unto the LORD, and called upon the name of the LORD” (Gen 12:8), “Unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the LORD” (13:4), “built there an altar unto the LORD” (13:18). That he “trusted God” is that he trusted God would one day provide the sacrifice for his sins, “God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering” (22:8).

God’s people under the law of the Old Covenant were saved by loving God and keeping His commandments, “them that love me, and keep my commandments” (Exo 20:6; Deu 5:10), “them that love him and keep his commandments” (Deu 7:9). Jesus said the same, “If ye love me, keep my commandments … He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me … If a man love me, he will keep my words … He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings” (Jhn 14:15,21,23,24). And John as well, “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments” (1Jo 2:3), “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments” (1Jo 5:3), “And this is love, that we walk after his commandments” (2Jo 1:6). Eternal life comes not to believers but to the obedient, “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life” (Rev 22:14).

The Faithfulness Once Delivered

Introduction

The message of faithfulness to God was declared from the beginning by the Son of God through the creation itself. It was later proclaimed to Abraham, and again to God’s people under Moses. And it was the message preached by the Son of God in the flesh. Salvation is by faithfulness to God in submitting to His only begotten Son Jesus Christ—obeying His commandments, trusting Him, agreeing with Him, and suffering for His sake.

The message of sola fide or “faith alone” conceived about 500 years ago during the Protestant Reformation isn’t the message the Son of God preached. Its purpose all along is to be just another means of keeping people on the broad way that leads to annihilation, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction [annihilation], and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Mat 7:13-14).

The message of faithfulness from the beginning

God’s message of salvation from the beginning is faithfulness to Him through His Son Jesus Christ. In the creation account narrative, He showed that He would choose a people to Himself, separate them from all other people, and seat His Son at His right hand to rule over them and advocate to God the Father on their behalf. His people would be saved by their faithfulness in submission and obedience to His purpose and plan from the beginning.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided [bāḏal 914] the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. (Genesis 1:1-5)

The Hebrew verb bāḏal means “to divide,” “to separate,” or “to sever.” These very first words of God were figurative and prophetic of what He would later perform by dividing, separating, or severing His people from all other people, “I am the LORD your God, which have separated [bāḏal 914] you from other people … have severed [bāḏal 914] you from other people, that ye should be mine” (Lev 20:24,26). God’s people would be light which He called “Day,” and all other people darkness which He called “Night.” Then God proceeded to distinguish them both by the ruler over them.

And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide [bāḏal 914] the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide [bāḏal 914] the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:14-18)

This is what Paul meant by “in heavenly” at the beginning of Ephesians: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly [epouranios 2032] places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love” (Eph 1:3-4). God’s chosen people were shown by the Greater Light in heaven ruling over them while all other people are ruled by the lesser light, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high [epouranios 2032] places” (Eph 6:12). “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light” (Eph 5:8). The Greater Light shown in the beginning is now sitting at the right hand of God, greater and far above all principalities and powers, “Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly [epouranios 2032] places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come” (Eph 1:20-21).

Salvation, therefore, is by faithfulness. It’s becoming one of God’s people, separated from all other people by faithfulness to the Lord Jesus Christ at God’s right hand in heaven. It’s being ruled by Him in faithful submission—obeying Him, trusting Him, agreeing with Him, and suffering for Him.

Abraham’s faithfulness

“And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt [test] Abraham” (Gen 22:1). Abraham’s faithfulness was tested and proven.

And the angel [messenger] of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son. And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh [Yehovah Yireh]: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen. (Genesis 22:11-14).

The Messenger of the Lord—the Son of God in heaven—saw Abraham’s faithfulness by his actions. James said, “shew me thy faith [faithfulness] without thy works [actions], and I will shew thee my faith [faithfulness] by my works [actions] … Was not Abraham our father justified by works [actions], when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?” (Jas 2:18, 21). The Hebrew Yehovah Yireh means “the existing One sees.” And this is what we were told in the beginning, “And God saw the light, that it was good” (Gen 1:4). God hid in a mystery the message of faithfulness—that He sees the light when He sees the faithful actions of His people. There was nobody on that mountain to see Abraham’s sacrifice except, of course, the existing One, “In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen” (Gen 22:14). Faithfulness consists of sacrifices made that nobody but God sees.

And the angel [messenger] of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies. And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice. (Genesis 22:15-18)

As God’s people hoping in the promises made to Abraham, we partake of the same heavenly calling when our faithfulness is tested and proven, “Wherefore, holy [separated] brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle [apostolos 652] and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house” (Heb 3:1-2). The Greek apostolos is someone that is sent. In this case, it’s the Messenger of the Lord—the Son of God sent from God the Father.

Five times in Hebrews the Son of God is said to be seated at the right hand of God: “sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (1:3); “Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool” (1:13); “who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens” (8:1); “sat down on the right hand of God” (10:12); “and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (12:2). That we’re “partakers of the heavenly calling,” is that when our faithfulness is tested, we’re blessed with the same calling from heaven as Abraham, “And the angel [messenger] of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham” (Gen 22:11). Our Advocate at the right hand of God in heaven, calls us by name and blesses us, “So then they which be of faith [faithfulness] are blessed with faithful Abraham” (Gal 3:9).

The faithfulness once delivered unto the separated

Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith [faithfulness] which was once delivered unto the saints [separated]. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace [favor] of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed [trusted] not. (Jude 1:3-5)

When Jude said, “earnestly contend for the faith [faithfulness] which was once delivered unto the saints [separated]” (Jud 1:3), he wasn’t talking about a body of doctrinal beliefs that was delivered to the early church by the apostles, but the faithfulness that had been delivered to God’s people in the Exodus, “the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt” (Jud 1:5). God delivered His people from slavery, separated them from all other people to favor them, and began teaching them faithfulness to Him as soon as they crossed the Red Sea.

So Moses brought Israel from the Red sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water. And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah. And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink? (Exodus 15:22-24)

This was the first of a series of hardships orchestrated by God to test and prove their faithfulness to Him, “and there he proved them” (Exo 15:25). However, they didn’t trust Him but continually complained: “And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness” (Exo 16:2); “the LORD heareth your murmurings which ye murmur against him: and what are we? your murmurings are not against us, but against the LORD” (Exo 16:8); “And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses” (Exo 17:3). These tests of their faithfulness continued a total of ten times until culminating with their failure to trust God to defeat their enemies in the promised land.

Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice … How long shall I bear with this evil congregation, which murmur against me? I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel, which they murmur against me. Say unto them, As truly as I live, saith the LORD, as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you: Your carcases shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, which have murmured against me. (Numbers 14:22,27-29)

Their unfaithfulness was cited as an example to us, “For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith [faithfulness] in them that heard it” (Heb 4:2). The vast majority of God’s people joined themselves with those that brought up the evil report and not with the faithful—namely Joshua and Caleb—that trusted God. This is “the faith [faithfulness] which was once delivered unto the saints [separated]” (Jde 1:3).

Many times God proved or tested His people’s faithfulness to Him: “and there he proved [nāsȃ 5254] them” (Exo 15:25); “that I may prove [nāsȃ 5254] them, whether they will walk in my law, or no” (Exo 16:4); “God is come to prove [nāsȃ 5254] you” (Exo 20:20). It’s the same Hebrew word nacah as when He tested Abraham, “And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt [nāsȃ 5254] Abraham” (Gen 22:1). The difficulties He caused His people to suffer humbled them and proved what was in their hearts, “And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove [nāsȃ 5254] thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no” (Deu 8:2), “Who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, that he might humble thee, and that he might prove [nāsȃ 5254] thee, to do thee good at thy latter end” (Deu 8:16).

God’s people today are saved by the same faithfulness that was delivered to them. Therefore, our faithfulness is also tested, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith [faithfulness] worketh patience” (Jas 1:2-3), “Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith [faithfulness], being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (1Pe 1:6-7).

The good message of Jesus Christ

The Greek euangelion translated as “gospel” means “good message.” It’s the message that Jesus Christ Himself preached: “preaching the gospel [euangelion 2098] of the kingdom” (Mat 4:23; Mar 1:14); “gospel [euangelion 2098] of Christ” (Rom 1:16; 1Co 9:18; 2Co 4:4,9:13,10:14; Gal 1:7; 1Th 3:2); “Christ’s gospel [euangelion 2098]” (2Co 2:12); “gospel [euangelion 2098] of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2Th 1:8).

The message Jesus Christ preached is that we’re to obey His commandments: “For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Mat 5:20); “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them … And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not” (Mat 7:24, 26); “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Mat 28:20); “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (Jhn 14:15); “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me” (Jhn 14:21); “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you” (Jhn 15:14).

His good message wasn’t sola fide or just believing some facts are true—it’s obedience to Him and His commandments: “But they have not all obeyed the gospel [euangelion 2098]” (Rom 10:16); “that obey not the gospel [euangelion 2098] of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2Th 1:8); “eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Heb 5:9); “what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel [euangelion 2098] of God” (1Pe 4:17).

In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel [euangelion 2098] of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:4-6)

Paul taught that when God said “Let there be light: and there was light” (Gen 1:3), that it was figurative and prophetic of the good message Jesus Christ would preach 4,000 years later. The truth He taught and the commandments He gave made a clear division between God’s people and everyone else, “and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night” (Gen 1:4-5). God’s people—the “Day”—would be ruled by His Son Jesus Christ, “the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night” (Gen 1:16). The gospel message from the beginning is that we must be one of God’s people, separated from the world by the hagios pneuma or separated breath of God in our hearts and keeping the commandments of the Lord Jesus Christ. Being ruled by Him.

Paul quoted from Psalm 19 about the gospel, “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel [euangelion 2098] of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things … Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world” (Rom 10:15,18). The creation itself has been preaching the good message of the Greater Light ruling over the day and the lesser light ruling over the night, “Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun” (Psa 19:2-4). Every day and night for 6,000 years—almost 2.2 million times—the gospel has been preached to all people regardless of language by the orbiting and rotation of the sun, earth, and moon. Salvation is a change of master, from being ruled by the lesser light to being ruled by the Greater Light.

This is also what the apostle John taught, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God … And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not” (Jhn 1:1,5). The light that shone in the darkness by Christ preaching His good message was in fulfillment of “Let there be light: and there was light” (Gen 1:3). He is “the greater light to rule the day” (Gen 1:16), “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe [trust]. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” (Jhn 1:6-9).

Jesus Christ taught faithfulness

Jesus taught that we must be faithful servants to Him as our Lord: “The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord” (Mat 10:24); “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?” (Mat 24:45); “His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Mat 25:21); “His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Mat 25:23); “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luk 6:46); “And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season?” (Luk 12:42); “And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters” (Luk 16:12-13); “So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do” (Luk 17:10); “And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities” (Luk 19:17).

Jesus taught faithfulness toward God, “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith [faithfulness] toward God” (Heb 6:1). He healed and forgave the people’s sins that were faithful to God in receiving Him as their Messiah: “When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith [faithfulness], no, not in Israel” (Mat 8:10); “And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith [faithfulness] said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee” (Mat 9:2); “But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith [faithfulness] hath made thee whole” (Mat 9:22); “And when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed him, crying, and saying, Thou Son of David, have mercy on us … Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith [faithfulness] be it unto you” (Mat 9:27, 29); “Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith [faithfulness]: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour” (Mat 15:28).

Jesus taught the fear of God, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Mat 10:28), “But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him” (Luk 12:5).

Jesus knows our actions, “I know thy works [actions]” (Rev 2:2,9,13,19,3:1,8,15), and will render to us accordingly, “I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works [actions]” (Rev 2:23). As with Abraham, He sees our faithfulness by our actions.

Jesus was teaching faithfulness when He said, “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me … Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me” (Mat 25:40, 45). We’re going to be judged, not by how we treated those esteemed by society as more important but “the least of these.” As James taught, “My brethren, have not the faith [faithfulness] of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons” (Jas 2:1).

God routinely tests our faithfulness and ultimately what’s in our hearts, “to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no” (Deu 8:2). At the time it’s happening, we don’t even realize we’re being tested which is why we’ll say later, “when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?” (Mat 25:37-39). He puts us in situations, for example, where two people cross our path—one is rich and influential while the other is poor and needy—and He is watching how we treat them both. Our hearts are shown in how we treated the least esteemed, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Faithfulness to Him is shown by how we treated them.

The just shall live by faithfulness

The Greek pistis appears about 250 times in the New Testament and is almost always translated as “faith” but should be “faithfulness” instead. The key statement that indicates this is Habakkuk 2:4, “but the person of integrity will live because of his faithfulness” (NET), “but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness” (NIV). This is quoted three times in the New Testament but as “The just shall live by faith [pistis]” (Rom 1:17; Gal 3:11; Heb 10:38). But it’s not about our faith but Christ’s faithfulness, “his faithfulness.” Christ was faithful to His Father in always doing His will, culminating in His faithfulness to die for our sins on the cross.

In Romans, Paul quoted Habakkuk indicating that he understood “faithfulness” as the good message Jesus Christ preached, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel [euangelion 2098] of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth [trusts]; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith [faithfulness] to faith [faithfulness]: as it is written, The just shall live by faith [faithfulness]” (Rom 1:16-17). And he reiterated this at the end of his letter, “Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel [euangelion 2098], and the preaching of Jesus Christ” (Rom 16:25).

Jesus taught that most people are on the broad way that leads to annihilation while only a few are on the way that leads to eternal life, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction [annihilation], and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life [eternal life], and few there be that find it” (Mat 7:13-14). And the determining factor is either doing or not doing what He commanded, “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them … And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not” (Mat 7:24, 26).

The word is near you

For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it. (Deuteronomy 30:11-14)

In these last words to God’s people from Moses, he was referring to the instructions he had given them to carry out once they entered the land, “These shall stand upon mount Gerizim to bless the people … And these shall stand upon mount Ebal to curse” (Deu 27:12-13), “Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them. And all the people shall say, Amen.” (Deu 27:26). And this they did under Joshua, “half of them over against mount Gerizim, and half of them over against mount Ebal; as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded before, that they should bless the people of Israel. And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessings and cursings, according to all that is written in the book of the law” (Jos 8:33-34). Since all the people said “Amen” to the commandments they heard, the word was now in their mouths! They couldn’t plead ignorance later for not doing because they had affirmed from their mouths that they heard with their ears and understood with their hearts. Paul quoted Moses and applied it to the faithfulness we are to have toward the Lord Jesus Christ:

But the righteousness which is of faith [faithfulness] speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above🙂 Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith [faithfulness], which we preach. That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe [trust] in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. (Romans 10:6-9)

The hearing and doing of which Moses spoke, “that we may hear it, and do it … in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it” (Deu 30:11-13), was prophetic of hearing and doing the commandments of our Lord Jesus Christ, “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them … And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not” (Mat 7:24, 26). Therefore, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus” (Rom 10:9), isn’t a confession of faith but of faithfulness. We’re essentially saying “Amen” from our mouths that we’ve heard His commandments and we’ll do them.

Baptism is our commitment to do everything Christ commanded, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Mat 28:19-20). Being baptized into His name means that we’ve died to our name and have committed ourselves unto death glorifying and defending His. It’s confessing our commitment to faithfulness, then keeping that commitment.

The Protestant Reformation

Paul’s last words about the time that would come have indeed become what we have today, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables [mythos 3454]” (2Ti 4:3-4). The Greek noun mythos is where our English “myths” is derived. The teaching of Protestant churches that God is a Trinity of Persons, man is an immortal spirit being, and salvation is by faith are simply myths.

The Protestant Reformation was an apparent split from the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) about 500 years ago and is hailed as the point where the church finally returned to “the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jde 1:3). However, it wasn’t a reforming at all but a rebranding. The Reformation kept the same wrong view of God and man, then simply formulated another false gospel message from it. Protestant churches today are essentially the RCC rebranded under a new name and image with a new message—the same “product” but new packaging.

The Reformation also wasn’t a protest but was by agency and design of the RCC. Its own Martin Luther appeared to lead a dissent from the mother church after having come to the “enlightenment” that justification is by faith. The true intent of this event, however, was that in the course of diverting everyone’s attention to the noble endeavor of getting the gospel message right, it was covertly reinforcing the Trinitarian view of God as right! In other words, it was a deflection from the underlying issue while buttressing it in the process. Though both sides have been hotly debating for hundreds of years whether salvation is by faith plus works or by faith alone, hardly a peep has been chirped about the correct view of God. This was never in question. Fighting passionately against certain things that were wrong left the false impression that everything else was substantially right.

A false view of God and a false view of man can only result in a false view of salvation. The Protestant doctrine of justification by sola fide or “faith alone” is just as false and damning as the RCC doctrine of “faith plus works” because it’s based upon the same underlying false view of God and man. It only sounds more appealing because it’s the view that supposedly glorifies the finished work of Christ on the cross by excluding our meritorious “works.” But in reality, working versus believing is a fabricated false dichotomy—an artificial antithesis concocted to support sola fide. There is no working versus believing juxtaposition in Scripture because all three of the main passages used for support are about the Law of Moses versus the faithfulness of Jesus Christ:

“For no one is declared righteous before him by the works [actions] of the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin. But now apart from the law the righteousness of God (although it is attested by the law and the prophets) has been disclosed—namely, the righteousness of God through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction” (Rom 3:20-22 NET)

“yet we know that no one is justified by the works [actions] of the law but by the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by the faithfulness of Christ and not by the works [actions] of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.” (Gal 2:16 NET)

“and be found in him, not because I have my own righteousness derived from the law, but because I have the righteousness that comes by way of Christ’s faithfulness—a righteousness from God that is in fact based on Christ’s faithfulness” (Phi 3:9 NET).

The doctrine of sola fide is a dangerous double-edged sword in that it not only falsely assures of salvation by simply believing some facts are true, but also discourages obedience to Christ’s commandments—the good message of salvation He preached—as trying to save ourselves by our merit. The doctrine of sola fide conjoined with once-saved-always-saved is aimed at diminishing the fear of the Lord and promoting unfaithfulness, because if salvation is by believing some facts are true and salvation can never be reversed, then there isn’t much reason to fear God as Jesus warned, “fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Mat 10:28), “Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him” (Luk 12:5). Add to all of this the myth of being born with a depraved sinful nature that prevents anyone from living righteously, and the masses are kept marching devotedly down the broad way leading to destruction.

Initiatives to keep people on the broad way

The Reformation wasn’t about finding the way to eternal life but keeping people from it. As the Bible was beginning to be translated and released to the world, it was an initiative pushed to continue the containment of the truth under the fog of myths. Its goal was to expunge God’s people from the plan of salvation thereby leaving a vacuum to change the message of salvation from faithfulness to faith.

The Reformation effectively displaced God’s people from the New Testament by three main tactics. First, it suppressed and concealed “the faith [faithfulness] which was once delivered unto the saints [separated]” (Jde 1:3), by turning it into the concept of a body of doctrinal beliefs delivered to the church by the apostles. And that body of beliefs is the systematic theology they teach—a system foreign and disconnected from the promise made to Abraham and hope of God’s people.

Second, it directed Bible translations that shrouded God’s people by rendering vocabulary about them with generic or inaccurate words: ekklesia as “church” instead of “assembly” or “congregation,” eklektos as “elect” instead of “chosen,” charis as “grace” instead of “favor,” pistis as “faith” instead of “faithfulness,” pisteuo as “believe” instead of “trust,” ergon as “works” instead of “actions,” hagios as “holy” or “saints” instead of “separated,” and pneuma as “spirit” instead of “breath.” It’s not that they just got a word or two wrong by mistake. The consistent pattern and genre of “mistakes” betrays their agenda.

Third, it formulated the ideology of Calvinism to suppress doctrines about God’s chosen people. God elected who will be saved rather than chose a people to Himself. God predestined each individual rather than predetermined to adopt children to Himself through His Son Jesus Christ. God has foreknowledge of the future rather than knows His people in time past. And God chose in eternity past before the creation of the world rather than showing His chosen people in a mystery before casting down the system.

Besides these initiatives to remove God’s people from the Scriptures, Protestant leaders enforce their control by Trinitarian seminaries training and commissioning the pastors that oversee the churches, sending and supporting missionaries bound to their Trinitarian organizations, and maintaining Bible translation groups using only the Alexandrian tradition of manuscripts while ensuring the finished product conforms to their theological system.

Probably the most disheartening and discouraging undertaking is their missions efforts cloaked as a virtuous endeavor to bring the gospel to the unreached when it’s just a sinister scheme to poison the well. They arrive first with their myths so that the people will turn away their ears from the truth when it ever comes, “And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables [mythos]” (2Ti 4:4). They masquerade as chauffeurs of the narrow way only to drive people down the broad way.

Deceiving, distracting, and diverting doctrines

Protestant Trinitarian leaders—theologians, pastors, missionaries—keep people on the broad way that leads to destruction by falsely assuring them that they’re on the narrow way that leads to life. They give them everything they need to be thoroughly convinced they’re on the right road but withhold from them just enough to keep them on the wrong road. They teach many things that are true and helpful but not what’s necessary for eternal life. And they also teach a plethora of nonsense intended to keep them busy wasting their time and diverted from the truth.

The entire Calvinist and Arminianist war is a hoax. They’re both on the same side fighting the truth by feigning an internal conflict designed to do nothing but divert attention from God’s chosen people. It’s all about distracting, confusing, and wasting precious time and resources. The babbling practice under the pretense of the gift of tongues has been another colossal means of diverting and squandering time. And more recently the doctrine of the rapture has detoured people from the hope of eternal life at the return of the Lord to an escape to fly around in heaven.

They want people engaged in hearing and debating about all kinds of foolishness because it deceives, confuses, and distracts from doing God’s work. What they don’t want is anyone teaching the true view of God and man, or helping others keep Christ’s commandments because they don’t want them on the narrow way that leads to eternal life. They love having Jehovah’s Witness, Mormon, and Unitarian churches around that they can cite as to what happens to those that aren’t Trinitarians—therefore, it’s best to stay home with them where it’s safe and cozy.

Hearing, and hearing, and hearing

Protestant leaders teach the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. They teach topically, expositorally, and verse-by-verse. They teach Theology, Christology, Soteriology, Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Bibliology, Angelology, Harmartiology, Pneumatology, and Eschatology. They teach good things about marriage, family, and morality. They teach sermons, classes, podcasts, and webinars. They hold camp meetings, revivals, conferences, and retreats. They write books, commentaries, study Bibles, and magazines. It’s all about hearing, and hearing, and hearing but not doing Christ’s commandments. They’re always learning but not learning the truth, “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2Ti 3:7).

It’s very sobering and heavy to realize Jesus said that if we don’t keep His commandments, one day He will ban us from His presence, “And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them … And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not” (Mat 7:23-24, 26). Multitudes in churches are hearing and learning week after week but they’re not being taught Christ’s commandments. They’re being taught that salvation is by “faith alone” and that faith comes by hearing, “So then faith [faithfulness] cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom 10:17). So they keep hearing, and hearing, and hearing but not doing.

Conclusion

“Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord” (Mat 7:22). Multitudes of people are going to be aghast to stand before the Lord one day and be told by Him that He doesn’t know them. They’re going to be crying, pleading, and begging “Lord! Lord! Please!” But He isn’t going to be showing mercy anymore, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb 10:31).

We must reach people with the gospel Christ preached. This begins with being unashamed of His good message, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel [euangelion] of Christ” (Rom 1:16). It’s being unashamed that salvation is by faithfulness to Him—keeping His commandments, trusting Him, agreeing with Him, and suffering for Him. It’s being unashamed of Him and His words, “For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels” (Luk 9:26). It’s being unashamed that there is one true God the Father and one Lord Jesus Christ the only begotten Son of God. It’s being unashamed to gather with and be associated with God’s people, and suffering for His sake, “Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner” (2Ti 1:8), “The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain” (2Ti 1:16).

It’s being one of God’s people separated from the world by the hagios pneuma–the separated breath of God in our hearts—and obeying His Son Jesus Christ. It’s being on the same side of the truth as Jesus, “Everyone on the side of truth listens to me” (Jhn 18:37 NIV). It’s being set apart from the world by Him, “For both he that sanctifieth [sets apart] and they who are sanctified [set apart] areall of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren” (Heb 2:11). That we’re “all of one” is that we’re all in unity and agreement with Him about the truth. We must be faithful to Him as He is to His Father.

Reformation or Rebranding?

Introduction

Paul’s last words about the time that would come have indeed developed into the condition of the church today, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables [mythos]” (2Ti 4:3-4). The Greek noun mythos is where our English word “myths” is derived. The teaching of Protestant churches that God is a Trinity of Persons, man is an eternal spirit being, and salvation is by faith are myths. But because these beliefs have been taught consistently for hundreds of years, people have become acclimated and settled with them and now turn their ears away from hearing the truth.

This current plight is no accident. The devil is deceiving, confusing, and distracting with false doctrines to keep people from the truth so that they will perish. The Protestant Reformation wasn’t an initiative to return to the beliefs of the early church as it was acclaimed. It was a calculated and formulated deception by the enemy to infiltrate myths to the multitudes in a façade of the truth.

The Protestant Reformation

The Protestant Reformation was an apparent split from the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) about 500 years ago and is hailed as the point where Christians finally returned to “the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jde 1:3). However, it wasn’t so much a reforming as it was a rebranding. A reform is an improvement upon what is wrong to something better which would have been the case if it was a matter of getting a wrong gospel message right. But the errors of the RCC were far deeper and more pervasive—it had a wrong view of God, a wrong view of man, and a wrong gospel message. But rather than discarding the entire mess and truly reforming, the Reformation kept the same wrong view of God and man, then simply formulated another wrong gospel message out of it. Protestant churches today are essentially the RCC rebranded under a new name and image with a new message. It’s the same “product” but in new packaging—a subtle and devious marketing strategy.

Similarly, as the Protestant Reformation wasn’t a reformation, it also wasn’t a protest—it was by the agency and design of the RCC. Its own Martin Luther appeared to lead a dissent from the mother church after having come to the “enlightenment” that justification is by faith. The true intent of this event, however, was that in the course of diverting everyone’s attention to the noble endeavor of getting the gospel message right, it was covertly reinforcing the Trinitarian view of God as right! In other words, it was a deflection from the underlying issue while buttressing it in the process. Though both sides have been hotly debating for hundreds of years whether salvation is by faith plus works or by faith alone, hardly a peep has been chirped about the correct view of God. This was never in question. Fighting passionately against the things that were wrong left the false and fatal impression that everything else was substantially right.

Making all of this the more disheartening and discouraging is the fact that both sides of the “faith” debate are also wrong! Protestant churches contending “faith alone” and the RCC defending “faith plus works” has been two false gospel messages duking it out and accumulating myriads of converts to boot. The entire ordeal has proven to be a sinister and successful campaign by the enemy to destroy us.

The mother of harlots

So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration. (Revelation 17:3-6)

Many have recognized and maintain that this woman is the RCC. She is decked in the pomp and pageantry of her popes and cardinals attired in purple and scarlet, gold and precious stones. She established the doctrine of the Trinity by anathematizing and putting to death those that stood for the truth taught by Jesus Christ. And she is “THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS” by virtue of having given birth to thousands of Protestant Trinitarian churches all over the world committing fornication with a Trinity of Persons rather than knowing “the only true God” (Jhn 17:3) the Father, and His Son Jesus Christ.

The seven heads of the beast carrying the woman could possibly be the seven largest Trinitarian organizations: the RCC, Reformed, Anglican, Methodist, Lutheran, Pentecostal, and Baptist. We were told earlier, “And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy” (Rev 13:1). If this is the true identity of the seven heads, then “the name of blasphemy” on the heads is the name “Trinity.”

In the end times, however, God’s people will come out from this woman, “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues” (Rev 18:4). Within the RCC and Protestant churches are many of God’s people that embrace the Trinitarian view of God in sincere ignorance—only because it was taught to them. But the day will come when they’ll no longer be ignorant of the truth and will be given a final opportunity to depart.

Now the Spirit [Breath] speaketh expressly, 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; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. (1 Timothy 4:1-3)

Paul described the coming RCC quite descriptively. They forbid their priests from marrying and require abstaining from meat on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and all Fridays during Lent. And this is what the Breath spoke expressly or specifically would happen in the latter times.

Jesus Christ was sent by God and He taught that He is the Son of God and that His Father is God and even His God. The doctrine of a Triune God didn’t come from Him! Then where did it come from? What’s its source? Paul said that doctrines of devils come from those forbidding marriage and requiring abstinence from meat, and the doctrine of the Trinity came from the very organization that fits this description.

Vain babblings

The Protestant Reformation wasn’t about standing for the true gospel message, but about furthering the spread of the false Trinitarian view of God through another means. People seeking the narrow road that leads to life now had an option other than the RCC. And although this other option might have seemed more appealing, it’s still not the narrow road.

The subtlety behind the Reformation is that it continued the spread of the RCC false view of God and man primarily through diversion tactics. Its first and main diversion was that salvation isn’t by “faith plus works” as taught by the RCC but by “faith alone” or the Latin sola fide. But Martin Luther was wrong in this understanding of “The just shall live by faith” (Rom 1:17) because Habakkuk wasn’t talking about faith but faithfulness, “because of his faithfulness” (Hab 2:4 NET) “by his faithfulness” (Hab 2:4 NIV). Paul even clarified this later in Romans, “This was also to demonstrate his righteousness in the present time, so that he would be just and the justifier of the one who lives because of Jesus’ faithfulness” (Rom 3:26 NET). The just live—have eternal life—by Jesus Christ’s faithfulness to His Father sending Him as the sacrifice for our sins.

Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith [faithfulness] which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed [trusted] not. (Jde 1:3-5)

Trinitarian theologians claim that “the faith [faithfulness] which was once delivered unto the saints” is a body of doctrinal beliefs that was delivered to the early church by the apostles. And this body of beliefs, of course, is their system of theology that they teach today! But Jude wasn’t talking about a belief system but the faithfulness God delivered to His people at the time of the Exodus, “the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt.” God disciplined them to be faithful to Him and trusting in Him—the same way we’re saved today! Jesus Christ taught us to be faithful servants to Him as Lord: “No man can serve two masters” (Mat 6:24); “Who then is a faithful and wise servant” (Mat 24:45); “Well done, thou good and faithful servant” (Mat 25:21); “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luk 6:46).

The Protestant doctrine of justification by “faith alone” is just as false and damning as the RCC doctrine of “faith plus works.” It only sounds more appealing because it supposedly glorifies the finished work of Christ on the cross by excluding any of our own works. But this isn’t what it does. It’s just another false gospel message founded upon the RCC false view of God and intended to keep people from the truth.

By inventing the artificial issue of “faith alone” versus “faith plus works” and making such a racket about it, it underhandedly sold the bill of goods that the RCC had the correct view of God since that issue wasn’t even questioned. Paul warned Timothy several times about those spreading vain babblings or words to no profit: “From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling” (1Ti 1:5-6); “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called” (1Ti 6:20); “Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers” (2Ti 2:14); “But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness” (2Ti 2:16).

The devil is a master distractor. Sola Fide, Calvinism, the rapture, Once Saved Always Saved, speaking with tongues and many other popular mainstream doctrines are simply smokescreens intended to confuse and deceive, waste precious time and resources, and divert people’s attention away from the real issues of the false Trinitarian view of God and the false view of man as an eternal spirit being. Much of what’s being taught in Protestant Trinitarian churches today is simply vain babblings intended to distract and divert people away from the narrow road that leads to eternal life so that they will perish. These churches are not trying to help us get saved.

Calvinism has proven to be a huge distraction that has wasted unfathomable amounts of time and resources over hundreds of years. It’s simply a cloak to divert people’s attention away from the true gospel message hidden in a mystery from the beginning, “in heavenly places in Christ” (Eph 1:3), “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven … the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night” (Gen 1:17-16). Trinitarian theologians don’t want us to learn the truth hidden from the beginning, that becoming God’s child is by being joined to His chosen people in Christ Jesus, “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will” (Eph 1:4-5), “Ye are the children of the LORD your God: ye shall not cut yourselves, nor make any baldness between your eyes for the dead. For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth.” (Deu 14:1-2).

The entire Calvinist and Arminian debate about whether “chosen us in him before the foundation of the world” (Eph 1:4) means God chooses which individuals will be saved, is simply a grand diversion to keep people from learning the truth that it’s about God’s chosen people. They don’t want people to learn that we’re saved by being joined to God’s people and faithfully serving their Lord and Messiah.

It’s an utter shock to come to the realization that Calvinists and Arminians are on the same side! They’re not trying to find the truth but fight the truth. They’re working together to keep people distracted from finding the truth themselves. In the process of endless debates endeavoring to debunk each other, they’re deliberately robbing our precious time from learning what Paul so earnestly wanted us to understand, “The eyes of your understanding being enlightened” (Eph 1:18). The entire Calvinism and Arminianism debate is a sinister ruse to keep us blinded from the truth. It’s a deluge of questions, debates, and controversies along with disputes about the meaning of words, “doting about questions and strifes of words” (1Ti 6:4). Does God choose who will be saved? Do we have a free will? What’s the meaning of foreknowledge, predestination, and election? Are you supralapsarian or infralapsarian? It’s wasting people’s time and damning them in the process.

Another shrewd distraction from the truth is the doctrine of the rapture. The intent is to detour people’s hope away from the Lord’s return and the resurrection by inventing an independent rapture event. Rather than the living being caught up with the dead at the Lord’s return, it’s now about looking to escape the Tribulation period by a rapture up to heaven. It’s just a digression from our true hope to a false one.

Probably the most nefarious divergence of all is the detouring of honest seekers away from striving to keep the commandments of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus told us to teach new converts obedience to everything He commanded, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Mat 28:19-20). But this isn’t what’s happening today in Protestant churches.

As an unscrupulous substitute, Protestant leaders devised “discipleship” programs where new converts are taught to memorize Bible verses on index cards, stick to a daily Bible reading plan, and participate in small group Bible discussions, but to get their understanding of the Bible from their sermons, books, and commentaries. This isn’t simply an oversight or misunderstanding about what Jesus told us to do. Theologians and scholars are highly intelligent men with no problem understanding His simple statement. Rather, it’s a deliberate and intentional misleading of honest seekers to the path of destruction. By diverting them to a lifestyle of such religious practices, they’re effectively keeping them from a life of faithful obedience to Jesus Christ as Lord. They’re preventing their salvation.

Jesus taught that we’re to not only hear but also do the commandments He delivered in His Sermon on the Mount, “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock … And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand” (Mat 7:24, 26). He said that if we’re not doing His commandments, He will banish us from His presence and we’ll perish, “And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Mat 7:23).

Conclusion

Protestant churches are steeped in myths about God, man, and salvation purposely intended to keep its members deceived, confused, and diverted away from the truth taught by Jesus Christ. The pastors of these churches teach and preach anything other than what will get people on the narrow road that leads to life, “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Mat 7:14). They’ll teach topically, they’ll teach verse-by-verse, they’ll teach on marriage and family, they’ll teach apologetics, they’ll teach theology, they’ll teach against sin, they’ll teach on faith, they’ll even teach through the entire Bible, but they won’t teach the commandments of Jesus Christ and they won’t agree with what He declared about God and about Himself. Jesus said, “But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil” (Mat 5:37). If someone doesn’t answer a simple Yes/No question—also called a polar question—with a simple “Yes” or “No” answer, then evil is involved in their motives. If you feel so inclined, just ask your Trinitarian pastor this simple polar question, “Is God the Father, Jesus Christ’s God?” If he answers “Yes,” then he isn’t a Trinitarian. If he answers “No,” then he’s disagreeing with Jesus because He called His Father “My God” before His death (Mat 27:46), after His resurrection (Jhn 20:17), and after His ascension to His Father’s right hand (Rev 3:12). If he answers something other than “Yes” or “No,” then according to Jesus, there’s evil in his motives. Not answering “Yes” or “No” to a polar question is dodging the question as to not be identified with one side or the other. But why wouldn’t a pastor want to be identified with Jesus Christ?

Salvation, Eternal Security, and Assurance

Introduction

A false view of the essence or composition of man—mankind or human beings—will always lead to a false view of the salvation of man. The mainstream Protestant Christian understanding is that man is an eternal non-physical being living inside a physical body, and at death the non-physical being leaves the body and continues living eternally either in heaven or hell. And since man lives eternally regardless, salvation must consist of something other than living eternally. Therefore, the concept of salvation is that the eternal non-physical being becomes transformed from an unsaved state to a saved state before death.

On the other hand, if man is a mortal physical being destined for annihilation after death, then salvation isn’t a change in state but getting victory over death to live eternally as Scripture teaches, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (Jhn 3:16); “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (Jhn 10:28); “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom 6:23).

Our conclusion about the essence of man—whether man is an eternal non-physical being or a mortal physical being—has great implications on our understanding of salvation and assurance or lack thereof. In the view that man is an eternal non-physical being, salvation is a change of state the moment a confession of faith in Jesus Christ is made—the person passes from an unsaved state to a saved state as a born again new creature. But Jesus’ teaching, “Ye must be born again” (Jhn 3:7), and Paul’s statement, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature” (2Co 5:17), are simply misunderstood and misapplied. The entire concept that salvation is a change in the state of being and that this change is a new birth to a new creature is bogus.

This wrong view of man, and consequently man’s salvation, is the reason Christians contend with each other about security—whether salvation can or can’t be forfeited—and wrestle with themselves about assurance. It’s the fruit of the doctrines of devils originating with the Roman Catholic Church (RCC). The reformers essentially kept the RCC view of man and developed a modified version of man’s salvation. Although the reformers intended to get it right, but since they were still beginning with a wrong view of man, they inevitably arrived at just another wrong view of salvation.

The faulty foundation of the RCC

Deceiving people into believing that man is an eternal non-physical or spirit being that continues to live disembodied after death was necessary for the RCC to sell indulgences. They invented a temporary place called purgatory where departed spirits are kept in limbo for a long period unless their loved ones gave financially to get them out sooner. But to round out this delusion, there had to also be two alternate places of permanent residence. There needed to be a permanent abode of bliss for the saints that bypassed purgatory altogether and for the others that finally got out. And there needed to be a permanent place of suffering for everyone else that perished. This is where the concepts of heaven and hell were introduced as man’s permanent destinies. The RCC essentially modified heaven to be not only God’s residence but also man’s and invented a spiritual place of suffering called hell distinct from the physical mass grave called the lake of fire (see my writing “Man and Eternal Life”). Thus, with man perceived as a non-physical being that continues to live disembodied after death in one of these three places, the stage was set for the money to begin pouring in.

The reformers were successful in protesting against the selling of indulgences and refuting the existence of purgatory. However, their efforts didn’t go far enough. They still kept the same view of man along with his two permanent destinies of either heaven or hell. Consequently, they couldn’t arrive at the correct view of salvation. The RCC and Protestants continue arguing today about which has the correct view of salvation. Is it faith plus works, or faith alone? The answer is neither! Though Protestants vehemently claim their teaching and preaching is “the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jde 1:3), it’s just “a faith” they devised from what was once delivered by the RCC.

For dust thou art

“And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Gen 2:7). When we read the account of Adam’s creation, we just assume he knew all along that he had been formed from the ground. But how could he have known? He didn’t know what he was until God told him, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Gen 3:19). He learned from his Creator that he is dust. Like Adam, we also need to learn from our Creator that we are dust—mortal physical beings that were taken from the ground and will return to the ground.

Who knows better what we are than our Creator? He said “dust thou art.” Who can say otherwise? That we are dust is also evident by our lives being inextricably bound to the biological system of the planet. Plants grow from the ground, animals eat the plants or each other, and we eat the plants and the animals. When the plants and animals die, their lives cease and they return to the ground. Likewise, our lives cease at death and we return to the ground to never live again unless resurrected from death.

Abraham and David both confessed that they were dust, “And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes” (Gen 18:27), “For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:14). And Jesus Christ is the Seed or Son of both, “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Mat 1:1).

He is the Seed of Abraham: “And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be” (Gen 15:5); “That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice” (Gen 22:17-18); “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ” (Gal 3:16); “For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham” (Heb 2:16).

He is the Seed of David: “And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom” (2Sa 7:12); “His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me” (Psa 89:36); “Thou Son of David, have mercy on us” (Mat 9;27); “Is not this the son of David?” (Mat 12:23); “O Lord, thou Son of David” (Mat 15:22); “Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David.” (Mat 22:42); “That Christ cometh of the seed of David” (Jhn 7:42); “I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will. Of this man’s seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus” (Act 13:22-23); “Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh” (Rom 1:3); “Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel” (2Ti 2:8).

He became a man exactly like we are: “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh” (Rom 8:3); “But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Phl 2:7-8); “For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren” (Heb 2:16-17).

Since Jesus Christ became a man just like we are, and since man is dust, then He became dust. He is not some kind of dual being consisting of both non-physical and physical combined but is strictly a physical being. As a physical being His death meant that He was no longer alive but dead, and His resurrection meant that He was no longer dead but alive.

The Protestant view adopted from the RCC is that God is a Trinity of Persons and man is an eternal non-physical being living inside a body that will live forever either in heaven or hell. And to be consistent with this view of God and man, they must claim that the Son of God became a dual-being in His incarnation—both a 100% divine being and a 100% human being—an eternal non-physical being living inside a physical body. This supposed hypostatic union of two beings into one Person in the incarnation is necessary to maintain their Trinitarian view of God. Therefore, as a dual being, only the physical part of Jesus Christ died on the cross while the non-physical part was still alive, and His resurrection was simply the non-physical part re-entering the physical part. Furthermore, since His resurrection is the exemplar of man’s, this wrong view of the Savior results in a wrong view of the saved. If the Savior is an eternal non-physical being that simply re-entered His body in resurrection, then man is also an eternal non-physical being that re-enters his body at the resurrection.

The problem with this view of man as an inherently eternal being that lives forever somewhere is that it forces a redefinition of eternal life. When annihilation is denied, eternal life must be redefined because if everyone, even the unsaved, live forever then everyone by definition has eternal life. Therefore, to maintain this wrong view of man (and ultimately the RCC wrong view of God as a Trinity of Persons), an entirely fictitious concept of eternal life had to be invented. It had to be something man obtains and already has right now in this life.

Scripture is replete with teaching that eternal life isn’t something we already have but are trying to obtain: “Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? … and shall inherit everlasting life” (Mat 19:16, 29); “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal” (Mat 25:46); “Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luk 10:25); “That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (Jhn 3:15-16); “And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal” (Jhn 4:36); “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life” (Jhn 5:39); “Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life” (Jhn 6:27); “And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life” (Jhn 6:40); “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (Jhn 10:28); “He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal” (Jhn 12:25); “As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him” (Jhn 17:2); “To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life” (Rom 2:7); “That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom 5:21); “But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Rom 6:22-23); “For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting” (Gal 6:8); “for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting” (1Ti 1:16); “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life” (1Ti 6:12); “In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began” (Tit 1:2); “That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Tit 3:7); “And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life” (1Jo 2:25); “Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life” (Jde 1:21).

In the Protestant view of man adopted from the RCC, if everyone lives eternally regardless, then eternal life can’t mean living eternally. Therefore, the redefining of eternal life became necessary. But to accomplish this, it couldn’t just be life that was redefined but also its antithesis—death. We understand death as the cessation of life, that when a living being is no longer alive, it’s dead. However, consistency within the RCC system of the Trinity of God and the eternality of man requires a different understanding. Rather than death as “the end of life,” it was redefined as “separation” and also partitioned into multiple types—physical death (separation of the non-physical being from the physical body); spiritual death (separation from relationship with God); eternal death (eternal separation from God).

In this system of life and death, Adam was supposedly created inherently eternal and in a state of spiritual life that changed to spiritual death when he sinned, “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Gen 2:17). This spiritual death state of being was consequently passed down to his descendants, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Rom 5:12). Although man is still inherently eternal as he was created, but because of Adam’s sin everyone is born in a state of spiritual death that must change to spiritual life to have eternal life in heaven with God.

In this view of salvation, since everyone lives eternally whether or not they’re saved, the distinction between the saved and unsaved is if they’re spiritually alive or spiritually dead. Therefore, salvation is a change from a state of spiritual death to spiritual life as a new creature by a second birth. Those that have been born again will live forever with God in heaven, while those that didn’t experience the new birth will be burned alive forever in hell. But this view of salvation is wrong because it’s necessitated by a wrong view of man.

Are we born again as new creatures?

The teaching that salvation is a new birth from spiritual death to spiritual life as a new creature is based upon the false assumption that man is an eternal non-physical being living inside a physical body. With this view of man, the new birth is understood as a re-birth of a supposed inner being. But if the correct view of man is that he is a physical being, that he is dust, then there’s nothing inside to be reborn! The new birth of an inner being into a new creature is simply a false concept concocted to proof-text and support a false view of man and his salvation.

Jesus was speaking to the Pharisee Nicodemus when He taught, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (Jhn 3:3). And John emphasized on three different occasions that Nicodemus had come to Jesus by night, “The same came to Jesus by night” (Jhn 3:2), “he that came to Jesus by night” (Jhn 7:50), “which at the first came to Jesus by night” (Jhn 19:39). This must have been important to repeat it. Like Gideon, it seems Nicodemus feared man more than God, “Then Gideon took ten men of his servants, and did as the LORD had said unto him: and so it was, because he feared his father’s household, and the men of the city, that he could not do it by day, that he did it by night” (Jdg 6:27). But Jesus explained to him that he must be “born of water and of the Spirit [Breath]” (Jhn 3:5). He must be baptized in water where he would no longer be ashamed but make a public confession of Jesus Christ in broad daylight for everyone to witness.

He went on to explain the new birth with an analogy, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; that which is born of the Spirit [Breath] is spirit [breath]” (Jhn 3:6). All creatures “born of the flesh,” are of the same flesh from which they were born—horses have horses, and dolphins have dolphins. This is also what Paul taught about the resurrection, “All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds” (1Co 15:39). Since the only way to get a horse is from a horse, the correlation of “born of the Spirit [Breath] is spirit [breath],” is that the only way to get eternal life is from someone else that has eternal life, “I am the resurrection, and the life” (Jhn 11:25), “because I live, ye shall live also” (Jhn 14:19); “in Christ shall all be made alive” (1Co 15:22). We’ll be raised to eternal life by the same Breath that raised Christ, “But if the Spirit [Breath] of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit [Breath] that dwelleth in you” (Rom 8:11). The new birth, therefore, isn’t some kind of internal change from spiritual death to spiritual life, but resurrection from death to eternal life.

In Paul’s statement, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2Co 5:17), the words “he is” are italicized indicating they’re not in the Greek text but added by the translators with the intent of clarifying what was being said. However, this is simply a case of bias and imposing upon the Scriptures something Paul didn’t say. Because the view of the translators was that man is a non-physical being that becomes spiritually alive to a saved state at conversion, they understood this statement to be describing man transformed into some kind of a new creation. However, it’s not about man but about the creation itself being renewed from the curse.

Jesus Christ later revealed to John, “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea … And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Rev 21:1, 4). The “old things are passed away” are death, sorrow, crying, and pain, while the “all things are become new” are the renewed heavens and earth.

Eternal life means no more death

We must begin with a correct view of man to be in a position to apprehend a correct understanding of man’s salvation. Since man is a physical being, he’s no longer alive when he dies. Life and death are quite simple and easy to understand. When living beings die, including human beings, they’re no longer alive. Therefore, we don’t have eternal life right now because we all will die and no longer be alive. Death is the cessation of life, and eternal life is living perpetually without ever dying again.

Paul defined eternal life in Romans, “That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord … Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him … For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom 5:21, 6:9, 23). Jesus Christ died but was raised from the dead to never die again. This is eternal life! He said of Himself, “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore” (Rev 1:18).

Many times we’re told that there will come a day when there is no more death: “He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces” (Isa 25:8); “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues” (Hos 13:14); “Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection” (Luk 20:36); “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death” (1Co 15:26); “So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory” (1Co 15:54); “For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life” (2Co 5:4); “But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2Ti 1:10); “that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Heb 2:14-15); “He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death” (Rev 2:11); “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power” (Rev 20:6); “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death” (Rev 21:4).

Eternal life is no more death. It’s living perpetually without fear of ever dying again. And this correct view of eternal life comes from the correct view of man, “for dust thou art” (Gen 3:19).

Death from the beginning

“In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Gen 3:19). Adam’s life began from the ground and ended by returning to the ground. Returning to the ground meant that he would no longer be alive because he wasn’t already alive before being created from the ground. This is how life and death were defined from the beginning and this is also what Paul taught:

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) (Romans 5:12-17)

In the view that man is an eternal non-physical being, this passage must be understood that it was some type of spiritual death that passed upon mankind as the result of Adam’s sin. Therefore, the corollary is that Jesus Christ saved us from spiritual death. But Paul drew this same parallel between Adam and Christ when writing to the Christians in Corinth about the resurrection from death, “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1Co 15:21-22). It’s not some abstract concept of spiritual death that Christ saved us from, but the only type of death there is—returning to the ground. And it’s within this context and understanding of life and death that Paul defined eternal life, “That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord … Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him … For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom 5:21, 6:9, 23). Christ saved us from death that passed upon us from Adam—returning to the ground from which we were taken.

The dead that take part in the first resurrection when Christ returns will not die a second time, “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years” (Rev 20:6). They will have eternal life at this point because they will never die again. It will be after the millennium that the entire creation itself will be renewed from the curse of death pronounced upon it, “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea … And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Rev 21:1, 4).

Salvation is future

Salvation is simply deliverance or rescue from danger or peril. The Greek noun soteria for “salvation” and verb sozo for “save,” are used in the New Testament for deliverance from various afflictions such as sickness, demon possession, drowning, and deliverance from enemies, slavery, and prison: “Lord, save [sozo] us: we perish” (Mat 8:25); “Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole [sozo]” (Mat 9:22); “He saved [sozo] others; himself he cannot save [sozo]” (Mat 27:42); “and as many as touched him were made whole [sozo]” (Mar 6:56); “That we should be saved [soteria] from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us” (Luk 1:71); “Is it lawful on the sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? to save [sozo] life, or to destroy it?” (Luk 6:9); “They also which saw it told them by what means he that was possessed of the devils was healed [sozo]” (Luk 8:36); “And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved [sozo] thee” (Luk 18:42); “For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver [soteria] them” (Act 7:25); “Wherefore I pray you to take some meat: for this is for your health [soteria]: for there shall not an hair fall from the head of any of you” (Act 27:34); “For I know that this shall turn to my salvation [soteria] through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ” (Phl 1:19).

When used for the salvation we have in Christ, sozo and soteria mean deliverance from death. Since we’re delivered from death at the resurrection, then that’s the point we’ll be saved. It’s not Scripturally correct to call ourselves “saved” right now because we all still die. Salvation isn’t an internal change that happens in this life, but the event of deliverance from death when Christ returns.

And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Acts 2:19-21)

Peter preached the first evangelistic sermon and started by quoting from the prophet Joel about our future salvation. Our salvation “shall come to pass” after the sun is turned to darkness and the moon to blood. Since the sun hasn’t turned to darkness or the moon to blood, then none of us are saved yet. He wasn’t teaching that we’re saved the moment we call on the name of the Lord, but rather that it’s those that call on the name of the Lord that shall be saved when the Lord returns. These end-time events must transpire before the event of our salvation from the dead is consummated. And this very first evangelistic salvation message set the precedence for the correct view of salvation ever since. Paul quoted the same prophecy of Joel concerning salvation:

For with the heart man believeth [is being trusted] unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made [is being confessed] unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth [trusting] on him shall not be ashamed [kataischyno]. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call [calling] upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Romans 10:10-13)

The verbs in this passage are present-continuous, “is being trusted,” “is being confessed,” “trusting,” and “calling.” Paul was indicating that we continually trust and call upon the Lord until the day we’re finally saved, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom 10:13). The Greek kataischyno in his quote from Isaiah, “Whosoever believeth [trusting] on him shall not be ashamed [kataischyno],” means “to put to shame,” “to disappoint,” or “to let down.” He was saying that those trusting in Him for salvation from death will not be put to shame, disappointed, or let down. Salvation is the resurrection where our hope of eternal life will not be disappointed or let down.

Earlier in Romans, Paul said that the redemption of the body is our hope of salvation, “And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. For we are saved [sozo] by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?” (Rom 8:23-24). Later he will say, “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed [trusted]” (Rom 13:11). It’s not that we became “saved” the moment we trusted God, but rather that we’re trusting God until the day we’re saved. Though our salvation is in the future, it’s drawing nearer every day. Peter also taught that the salvation of our souls will be at the return of Christ:

That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing [trusting], ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith [faithfulness], even the salvation of your souls. (1Pe 1:7-9)

The writer of Hebrews said the same, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation” (Heb 9:27-28). Salvation from our appointment with death will be at Christ’s appearing. And when were we appointed to die? It was at the time of the curse, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Gen 3:19). He had taught earlier that this salvation will be in the world to come when all things are finally put under Christ’s feet:

How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will? For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak. But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him? Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. (Hebrews 2:3-8)

Paul told the Corinthians that it will be at the resurrection when all things are put under Christ’s feet, “For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” (1Co 15:25-26). Our salvation, therefore, will be at the resurrection when death is forever put beneath our feet through Christ. Paul also taught this to the Ephesians, “That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith” (Ephesians 2:7-9). He placed our salvation at the time of “the ages to come.”

But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. … But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, 5:8-10)

Paul taught the Thessalonians that salvation is what we hope to obtain when the Lord returns. When the Lord comes, the dead in Christ will be raised first and those alive will be caught up together with them. The helmet of salvation, “And take the helmet of salvation” (Eph 6:17), “and for an helmet, the hope of salvation” (1Th 5:8), is our hope of salvation from death at Christ’s return. It’s the heads of the devil’s children that will be bruised because they’re not wearing the helmet, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Gen 3:15).

We need forgiveness of sins and salvation from death

Everyone has sinned against God: “For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not” (Ecc 7:20); “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23); “But the scripture hath concluded all under sin” (Gal 3:22); “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1Jo 1:8).

Christ’s death on the cross paid the penalty for our sins: “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isa 53:5); “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mat 20:28); “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (Jhn 1:29); “Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” (Rom 4:25); “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom 5:6); “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures” (1Co 15:3); “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2Co 5:21); “And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour” (Eph 5:2); “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation” (Heb 9:28); “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb 10:10); “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed” (1Pe 2:24).

Scripture is consistent from beginning to ending that death—not living eternally in a place of fire—is the penalty for our sins: “for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Gen 2:17); “every man shall be put to death for his own sin” (Deu 24:16); “but every man shall die for his own sin” (2Ch 25:4); “he shall die: because thou hast not given him warning, he shall die in his sin” (Eze 3:20); “the soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Eze 18:4, 20); “I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins” (Jhn 8:24); “and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Rom 5:12); “That as sin hath reigned unto death” (Rom 5:21); “For the wages of sin is death” (Rom 6:23); “The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law” (1Co 15:56); “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die” (Rom 8:13); “Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (Jas 1:15); “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.” (Rev 20:14); “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” (Rev 21:8).

Christ’s resurrection from the dead and His return to raise the dead is our victory over death: “And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day” (Jhn 6:40); “As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me” (Jhn 6:57); “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live” (Jhn 11:25); “Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also” (Jhn 14:19); “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you” (Rom 8:11); “And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power” (1Co 6:14); “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.” (1Co 15:22-23); “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1Co 15:55-57); “Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you” (2Co 4:14); “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first” (1Th 4:16).

Salvation consists of two separate events: (1) forgiveness of our sins to be in a right relationship with God now, (2) obtaining eternal life at Christ’s return. But the Protestant view conflates the two—that salvation is forgiveness of our sins to be in a right relationship with God now and also obtaining eternal life by an internal change from spiritual death to spiritual life now. It’s this false view of man and salvation that’s the cause for the confusion and false teaching about eternal security and assurance.

Our sins separated us from God

Our sins severed our relationship with God and made us His enemies: “And I will surely hide my face in that day for all the evils which they shall have wrought, in that they are turned unto other gods” (Deu 31:18); “And he said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith” (Deu 32:20); “The LORD is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous” (Pro 15:29); “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear” (Isa 59:2); “Then shall they cry unto the LORD, but he will not hear them: he will even hide his face from them at that time, as they have behaved themselves ill in their doings” (Mic 3:4); “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life” (Rom 5:10); “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Rom 8:7); “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled” (Col 1:21); “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (Jas 4:4).

Because our sins are against Him, it’s His prerogative to decide how our relationship with Him can be reconciled. We’re not in any position to “call the shots” so to speak and decide how we can be made right with Him again. He provided the only way of restoring that relationship and it’s through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ. The Lamb that He provided, “God will provide for himself a lamb” (Gen 22:8), “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (Jhn 1:29), is the only sacrifice He will accept. This is why there’s only one way of salvation.

We’re forgiven now and have peace with God

God forgives our sins: “and it shall be forgiven” (Lev 4:20, 26, 31, 35; Lev 5:10, 13, 16, 18; Lev 6:7); “Pardon, I beseech thee, the iniquity of this people according unto the greatness of thy mercy, and as thou hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now” (Num 14:19); “and it shall be forgiven” (Num 15:25, 26); “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered” (Psa 32:1); “Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities” (Psa 51:9); “Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people, thou hast covered all their sin” (Psa 85:2); “But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared” (Psa 130:4); “Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy” (Mic 7:18); “Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee” (Mat 9:2); “Son, thy sins be forgiven thee” (Mar 2:5); “Man, thy sins are forgiven thee” (Luk 5:20); “Her sins, which are many, are forgiven” (Luk 7:47); “to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins” (Act 5:31); “through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins” (Act 13:38); “that they may receive forgiveness of sins” (Act 26:18); “Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered” (Rom 4:7); “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Eph 1:7); “God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Eph 4:32); “In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins” (Col 1:14); “having forgiven you all trespasses” (Col 2:13); “and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him” (Jam 5:15); “your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake” (1Jo 2:12); “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood” (Rev 1:5).

God reconciled us to Himself through His Son Jesus Christ: “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom 5:1); “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life” (Rom 5:10); “And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ” (2Co 5:18); “And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross” (Eph 2:16); “And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself” (Col 1:20); “to make reconciliation for the sins of the people” (Heb 2:17); “Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love” (2Jo 1:3).

Faithfulness and trust

The Hebrew noun emuwnah in the famous statement “but the just shall live by his faith [emuwnah]” (Hab 2:4), means “faithfulness” not “faith” as it’s translated. Several Bible versions, however, render it correctly: Complete Jewish Bible, God’s Word, Lexham English Bible, Names of God Bible, New English Translation, New International Version, New Living Translation, and The Voice. Habakkuk’s statement, of course, was quoted three times in the New Testament, “The just shall live by faith [pistis]” (Rom 1:17; Gal 3:11; Heb 10:38), and was instrumental in Martin Luther’s protest against the RCC in the Protestant Reformation.

The Greek noun pistis in “The just shall live by faith [pistis],” appears almost 250 times in the New Testament and is always translated as “faith” in the King James Version except in just three places where the contexts forced it to be rendered “faithfulness” or “fidelity”(Rom 3:3; Gal 5:22; Tit 2:10). Likewise, its verb form pisteuo also appears almost 250 times and is almost always translated “believe” except in just a few places where the contexts forced it to be rendered “trust” or “commit” (Luk 16:11; Gal 2:7; 1Th 2:4; 1Ti 1:11; Tit 1:3).

The point is that in almost 500 occurrences—other than a few times when the contexts forced the meaning of faithfulness or trust—the translators took the liberty of rendering pistis as “faith” and pisteuo as “believe.” But why? It’s because of an erroneous view of salvation based on a false view of man. Since Luther continued to embrace a wrong view of man as taught by the RCC, his effort to attain the right view of salvation was doomed to failure from the beginning. His faulty conclusion was that “The just shall live by faith [pistis]” means salvation is by faith or belief.

In the view that man is already inherently eternal, salvation cannot be living eternally but must be something else. That something else is an internal change from spiritual death to spiritual life. Rather than hoping to have eternal life at Christ’s return to raise the dead, eternal life is a change in the state of being before death—that we have salvation now and faith or belief is the criterion for having it.

In this mainstream Protestant Christian view, we’re saved simply by believing some facts about Jesus Christ are true, and even call ourselves “believers” in distinction from the unsaved. Salvation has essentially been dwindled-down to a formula—do ‘A’ to have ‘B.’ All we must do is make a faith-confession and we’re now saved, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe [trust] in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Rom 10:9).

Since faith is the criterion for salvation in this view, then faith must be the security and assurance of salvation. If we’ve done ‘A,’ then we have ‘B.’ If we doubt having ‘B,’ we just remind ourselves of having done ‘A.’ And since God does ‘B,’ then we can’t lose ‘B’ if we’ve done ‘A.’ The formula is simple and convenient. But the problem arises about those that did ‘A’ but no longer have ‘B.’ What about them? In response, the concepts of “believing in the heart” versus “mental assent,” or “heart faith” versus “head faith” were contrived. Though it seemed they did ‘A’, they didn’t, therefore never had ‘B.’ Those that believed all along never did, therefore they never were saved.

The problem with this view of salvation by faith is that it’s based on the false assumption that man is an eternal non-physical being. Therefore, salvation consists of a change in the state of being and whether or not we’ve truly had that change. It’s more focused on the saved than the Savior—who we are, what we have, and what we can do, rather than who He is, what He has, and what He can do. And assurance of this salvation comes by affirming who we are: “I’m a believer,” “I’m born again,” “I’m a new creature,” and “I’m the righteousness of God in Christ.” But the salvation taught in the Scriptures isn’t a change in who we are but whose we are!

It’s not who we are but whose we are

The theme of the apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is the mysterion or mystery. It’s about the saving gospel message of Jesus Christ that had been hidden by God within the narrative of the creation account itself but was now made known: “Having made known unto us the mystery [mysterion] of his will” (Eph 1:9), “How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery [mysterion]; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery [mysterion] of Christ)” (Eph 3:3-4), “the fellowship of the mystery [mysterion], which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ” (Eph 3:9), “This is a great mystery [mysterion]: but I speak concerning Christ and the church” (Eph 5:32), “to make known the mystery [mysterion] of the gospel” (Eph 6:19).

The hidden message within the creation that Paul featured in Ephesians is the Lordship of Jesus Christ shown figuratively within the heavens, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly [epouranios] places in Christ” (Eph 1:3). God created light and called it “Day” and the darkness “Night,” “And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night” (Gen 1:5). He then set two great lights in the heavens to rule over one or the other, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven … And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night” (Gen 1:14, 16). The mystery that was “made known” to Paul was that this represented our transition from one ruler to another, “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light” (Eph 5:8).

The Greater Light in the epouranios or heavenly is the Lord Jesus Christ represented by the sun during the day, while the lesser light is the devil represented by the moon during the night, “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high [epouranios] places” (Eph 6:11-12).

Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly [epouranios] places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith [faithfulness]; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:5-9)

Now we can understand what Paul meant in this passage by “saved through faith [faithfulness]” (Eph 2:8). He wasn’t saying that we’re saved by our faith, but by Christ’s faithfulness! This is what he will reiterate a little later, “To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly [epouranios] places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith [faithfulness] of him” (Eph 3:10-12), “because of Christ’s faithfulness” (Eph 3:12 NET).

It’s because Christ was faithful to His Father in shedding His precious blood for our sins, “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Eph 1:7), that the Father raised Him from the dead and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly, “And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph 2:6). And when we submit to Him as our Lord and Ruler, He represents us at the Father’s right hand as though we were seated there ourselves! This is the gospel message of salvation. This is the “mystery [mysterion] of the gospel” (Eph 6:19), as Paul concluded his letter. It’s Christ’s faithfulness to die for our sins, and our faithfulness to now serve Him as Lord—the Greater Light ruling the Day.

It’s not a change in us, but a change of us. It’s a change from out of one lordship or kingdom into another: “to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God” (Act 26:18); “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Col 1:13); “shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1Pe 2:9). Salvation isn’t an internal change of being but a positional change in standing.

The problem isn’t that we’re spiritually dead with some kind of sinful nature within us that must be changed. The problem is that we need a change in ruler over us. Because we’ve all sinned against God, we’re all under the lordship of the devil unless we submit ourselves to the Lord Jesus Christ. We’re not autonomous beings, “For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself” (Rom 14:7).

Salvation is belonging to Jesus Christ and being known by Him: “For I know him” (Gen 18:19); “I never knew you” (Mat 7:23); “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them” (Jhn 10:27); “And all mine are thine” (Jhn 17:10); “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (Rom 8:9); “And ye are Christ’s” (1Co 3:23); “But if any man love God, the same is known of him” (1Co 8:3); “they that are Christ’s” (1Co 15:23); “as he is Christ’s, even so are we Christ’s” (2Co 10:7); “And if ye be Christ’s” (Gal 3:29); “ye have known God, or rather are known of God” (Gal 4:9); “they that are Christ’s” (Gal 5:24); “The Lord knoweth them that are his” (2Ti 2:19).

Salvation from death at Christ’s return comes to those that belong to Him and go to their deaths in faithful service to Him: “whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s” (Rom 14:8); “fallen asleep in Christ” (1Co 15:18); “in Christ shall all be made alive” (1Co 15:22); “they that are Christ’s at his coming” (1Co 15:23), “the dead in Christ” (1Th 4:16); “the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus” (2Ti 1:1); “These all died in faith [faithfulness]” (Heb 11:13); “be thou faithful unto death” (Rev 2:10); “the dead which die in the Lord” (Rev 14:13).

Many times Paul used variations of the terms “in Christ,” “in him,” or “in whom” to express the concept of salvation as belonging to Jesus Christ. He used these terms about a dozen times in the first two chapters of Ephesians alone. Salvation isn’t a change of nature within us, but a change of position into Him. The only nature we have is human nature because we’re dust! Being “in him” is safety, security, and salvation.

Confessing the Lord Jesus

“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Rom 10:9). Confessing with the mouth the Lord Jesus isn’t some kind of magic formula that takes us from point ‘A’ to ‘B,’ that instantly changes us internally into a saved state of being. It’s a public confession of our commitment to faithfully serve Jesus Christ as Lord and obey everything He commanded. Understanding this statement within context, Paul had just quoted these words from Moses concerning Jesus Christ:

For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it. (Deuteronomy 30:11-14)

God was taking away all excuses from His people for disobedience. Earlier Moses had given them instructions for what they were to do once they crossed the Jordan, “And it shall be on the day when ye shall pass over Jordan unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee” (Deu 27:2), “These shall stand upon mount Gerizim to bless the people, when ye are come over Jordan; Simeon, and Levi, and Judah, and Issachar, and Joseph, and Benjamin: And these shall stand upon mount Ebal to curse; Reuben, Gad, and Asher, and Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali” (Deu 27:12-13). After the reading of all the blessings and curses the people were to affirm they had understood the consequences for not keeping the commandments, “Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them. And all the people shall say, Amen.” (Deu 27:26). And this is what they did under Joshua’s leadership, “And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessings and cursings, according to all that is written in the book of the law” (Jos 8:34).

By making His people affirm “Amen” out of their own mouths that they had heard His commandments and understood the consequences for not keeping them, they would be left without excuse. It’s similar to waiver agreements we sign today releasing liability from another party—it puts the responsibility back on us. His people wouldn’t be able to say later, “You never told us,” “You didn’t make it clear,” “Your commandments were out of our reach.” The bottom line was, “But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it” (Deu 30:14).

Paul taught that all of this was prophetic of what God would do through His Son Jesus Christ, “Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)” (Rom 10:6-7). This statement covers the gamut of Christ’s mission to mankind on the earth—His incarnation to His resurrection. He is our example of faithfulness and He also takes away all excuses from us—because He was faithful, we must be faithful. We’re to have His same mindset and go to our deaths in faithfulness, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phl 2:5), “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Phl 2:8).

“Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Rom 6:3-4). To be baptized or immersed into His death means that baptism is committing ourselves to die as He did. It doesn’t mean necessarily that we will be put to death but simply that we will suffer after the same image—being falsely accused, maligned, and reproached. God the Father raised His Son from the dead because His death glorified Him, “These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee” (Jhn 17:1). Likewise, we’ll be raised from the dead if we go to our deaths glorifying His Son. This is what it means to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phl 2:12). It certainly doesn’t mean that we save ourselves. It’s that our salvation from death is patterned after His by having the same mindset as Him.

Circling back to Romans, Paul drew this conclusion, “So then faith [faithfulness] cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom 10:17). Hearing about Christ’s faithfulness to His Father—that He came down from heaven, always did His Father’s will, went to His death in obedience, then was raised from the dead—this hearing came by the apostles being sent by Him to preach, “the word of faith [faithfulness], which we preach” (Rom 10:8), “And how shall they preach, except they be sent?” (Rom 10:15).

Now, we can’t make excuses, “that we may hear it, and do it?” (Deu 30:12, 13). When we “confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus” (Rom 10:9), the word is “in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it” (Deu 30:14). Salvation consists of affirming from our mouths that we’ve heard of Christ’s faithfulness and we’ve heard His commandments. We’re now committed to faithfully serve Him as our Lord unto death. We’ve heard it and we’ll do it.

Repentance in baptism is the prescribed point of conversion

Jesus preached repentance: “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mat 3:2); “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mat 4:17); “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mar 1:15); “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luk 5:32); “I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luk 13:3).

He commanded repentance and water baptism, “And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luk 24:47), “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Mat 28:19-20). He didn’t command an altar call, a sinner’s prayer, or a faith-confession but repentance and baptism.

In conclusion of the very first evangelistic sermon, Peter told his hearers to repent of their sins and be baptized, “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Act 2:38). He said nothing about believing or having faith. Of course believing is certainly involved, but conversion to Christianity isn’t about going from unbeliever to believer but unforgiven to forgiven. Peter’s second sermon recorded in Scripture was also about repentance and forgiveness of sins, “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out” (Act 3:19). Conversion isn’t about becoming a believer but becoming forgiven. And he continued to preach and teach repentance and forgiveness, “Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins” (Act 5:31), “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2Pe 3:9). According to Peter, repentance is the point of conversion, not believing.

Paul also preached and taught repentance: “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent” (Act 17:30); “Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Act 20:21); “But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance” (Act 26:20); “Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” (Rom 2:4).

Conversion isn’t an internal change from spiritual death to spiritual life, but a change in relationship—from an enemy of God to right with Him. The Greek dikaiosyne, translated throughout the New Testament “righteousness,” denotes a right relationship with God. And to be right with Him, our sins must first be forgiven, “Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” (Rom 4:6-8). God imputes or counts us right with Him when He no longer imputes or counts our sins against us. Thus, conversion is repenting of our sins and being forgiven by God on account of the shed blood of His Son Jesus Christ. We’re not saved at this point but only forgiven of our sins and in a right relationship with Him. Our salvation from death will come later when Christ returns to raise the dead.

Baptism is the turning point from a life of sin to a life of obedience to the commandments of Jesus Christ as Lord, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Mat 28:19-20). Paul also taught that baptism is the point at which we obey from our hearts the teachings of Jesus Christ, “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?’ (Rom 6:3), “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you” (Rom 6:17).

Being baptized into Christ

“Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?” (Rom 6:3), “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof” (Rom 13:14), “For ye are all the children of God by faith [faithfulness] in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” (Gal 3:26-27). Baptism “into Christ” means that we repent of our sins and commit ourselves to faithfully serve Him. And when we’re living faithfully to Him, He clothes the shame of our nakedness, “And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons” (Gen 3:7), “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them” (Gen 3:21).

Baptism is our commitment to live as He did and die as He did, “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?” (Rom 6:3). And the Lord’s Supper is the continued reminder of our commitment, “For by one Spirit [Breath] are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit [Breath]” (1Co 12:13), “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come” (1Co 11:26), “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt … O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done” (Mat 26:39, 42).

Peter said that Noah’s flood was figurative and prophetic of water baptism, “Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1Pe 3:20-21). Before baptism, the imaginations and thoughts of our hearts were evil, “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen 6:5). Baptism is the turning point where we purify the imaginations and thoughts of our hearts in His sight, “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” (Mat 5:8), “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Mat 5:28). We commit ourselves to serve Jesus Christ with a good conscience toward Him recognizing that He sees everything.

Earlier Peter wrote that having a good conscience toward God means that we suffer wrongfully knowing that He sees it and will justify us, “For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully” (1Pe 2:19). It’s following the example of Christ’s suffering, “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously” (1Pe 2:21-23). When falsely accused, He didn’t open His mouth in His defense but trusted His Father and committed His defense to Him. This is what Peter meant by “baptism doth also now save us … a good conscience toward God” (1Pe 3:21).

Jesus Christ died as a convicted criminal yet never tried to defend Himself. And before He breathed His last breath, He committed His life into His Father’s hands, “And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit [breath]: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost [exhaled]” (Luk 23:46). Isaiah prophesied that He would commit to His Father the vindication of His wrongful execution, “He is near that justifieth me; who will contend with me? let us stand together: who is mine adversary? let him come near to me. Behold, the Lord GOD will help me; who is he that shall condemn me? lo, they all shall wax old as a garment; the moth shall eat them up.” (Isa 50:8-9). As He committed His breath to His Father, we also commit our breath to Him, “And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit [breath]” (Act 7:59).

It’s because we’re dust—physical beings animated by God breathing into us—that salvation is having life breathed back into us at the first resurrection. Because the “saved” are dust, the Savior had to become dust. He had to become just like we are, so we could become just like He is. Paul taught a parallel between our initial creation to life and our subsequent resurrection to life, “The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit [breath]” (1Co 15:45). As the first Adam was raised from the dust and quickened by God’s Breath, we’ll be raised from the dust and quickened by God’s Breath at the return of the last Adam.

Christ trusted His Father to breathe life back into Him, and we also trust, “We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed [trusted], and therefore have I spoken; we also believe [trust], and therefore speak; Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you” (2Co 4:13-14). He spoke His trust in His Father to breathe life back into Him, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit [breath]: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost [exhaled]” (Luk 23:46). To be raised after the likeness of His resurrection, we must also be conformed to the likeness of His death, “became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Phl 2:8), “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead” (Phl 3:10-11).

Water baptism itself only gets us wet. It’s simply a tangible act or event that serves as the turning point of our lives. It’s not getting wet that saves us but what we do after getting dried off. The commitment of faithful service to the Lord that we make in baptism isn’t what saves us, but it’s the fulfillment of that commitment through a life of faithful service to the Lord that does.

Paul likened this turning point as though we’re now a completely new person from the old person we used to be: “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin” (Rom 6:6); “That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph 4:22-24); “Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him” (Col 3:9-10). But nothing changes in our state of being. We’re still the same dust! What changes is that we now have God’s Breath in our hearts giving us the strength to turn from a life of sin to righteousness. In all three of these passages, the new person is no longer living a life of sin but has put away the former lifestyle with its lusts and deeds.

Some fear their family or friends perished when they died without ever getting baptized. My dear mom came to Christ just a few months before her death from cancer but wasn’t baptized. We take great comfort reminding ourselves that the thief on the cross didn’t perish.

God won’t allow anyone to perish on a technicality. This isn’t relegating baptism to a mere formality nor is it alleging it to be unimportant. It’s very important because Jesus Christ commanded it. But this is simply recognizing its proper place and purpose. For example, if someone repented and was serving Christ as Lord but didn’t get baptized before death for various reasons—they were sincerely ignorant that Christ commanded it, they were in the desert, they died in a car crash on the way to be baptized—that person didn’t perish. On the other hand, someone that knew Christ’s commandment to be baptized and had the opportunity but stubbornly refused, how can we have confidence that they’ll be raised when Christ returns? If they wouldn’t even obey His initial commandment to be baptized, how could He have been their Lord? It’s not our place to judge their salvation but it certainly doesn’t make us feel very good about it.

God doesn’t need baptism to save us—it’s for our benefit not His. It serves as a public confession that we’re not ashamed of Jesus Christ but acknowledge who He is and commit ourselves to turn from a life of sin to serve Him unto death. It’s the turning point of living as if a new person distinct from the old person we used to be.

Being born from above

What has become known as the new birth or being born again is more correctly stated as being born from above, “Except a man be born again [anothen]” (Jhn 3:3), “He that cometh from above [anothen] is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all” (Jhn 3:31). And Paul taught the same about the resurrection when the Lord returns from heaven, “The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven” (1Co 15:47). It’s not some kind of internal change from spiritual death to spiritual life, but birth back to life when the Lord “cometh from above” or “cometh from heaven” to raise the dead. It’s being born from above when the Lord returns from above.

Jesus used the wind as an analogy of those born from above, “Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again [from above]. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit [Breath]” (Jhn 3:7-8). Like it is with the wind, we must recognize where Jesus came from and where He went, “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven” (Jhn 3:13). If we’ll live our lives in conformity to the truth of who He is and where He is right now at the right hand of God, then we’ll be born to life when He returns.

In the view that we’re already born again right now from a state of spiritual death to life, statements like this are problematic, “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God” (1Jo 3:9). Once we’re “born of God,” we cannot sin. Of course this has to be explained away as if the apostle didn’t know what he was talking about. Therefore, what John really meant is that we don’t habitually sin. But he said in the prior verse, “He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” (1Jo 3:8). The works of the devil haven’t been destroyed yet because he’s still working now. But once we’re “born of God” at Christ’s return, we won’t be tempted or deceived any further because the devil will be locked up and eventually destroyed: “And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season” (Rev 20:3), “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Rev 20:10). It’s when we’re no longer being tempted and deceived that we cannot sin. That’s eternal security!

Faithfulness to the Lord

Many have noted an obvious disconnect between the “saved through faith” (Eph 2:8) gospel taught by the apostle Paul and what the Lord Jesus Christ Himself taught about faithfulness to Him as Lord: “Who then is a faithful and wise servant” (Mat 24:45), “Well done, thou good and faithful servant” (Mat 25:21), “Who then is that faithful and wise steward” (Luk 12:42), “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much” (Luk 16:10), “Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little” (Luke 19:17). The apparent discrepancy is caused by the translators rendering the Greek noun pistis throughout the New Testament as “faith” instead of “faithfulness” to be consistent with their view of salvation. Because Paul’s writings are mostly doctrinal in the genre, it’s fairly easy for the translators to accomplish this undetected. But Jesus Christ taught parables about faithful servants which force a context that can’t be effectively mistranslated. The bottom line is that if we’ll just replace “faithfulness” for “faith” in all occurrences of pistis, we’ll see that Paul indeed taught faithfulness. His gospel of “saved through faith [faithfulness]” (Eph 2:8), is the truth he learned from Jesus Christ, “But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus” (Eph 4:20-21).

Now, “faithfulness” doesn’t exclude “faith” at all. That’s not even possible because there’s an element of faith or belief in any good relationship. We can’t have a faithful and trusting relationship with someone yet not believe a word they say! But the reformers made “faith” the sine qua non of salvation—that everything stands or falls with “faith.” We’re saved by “faith alone” or sola fide and anything that’s not faith is supposedly our works, or trying to save ourselves. However, the three main passages used to argue this “faith” versus “works” contention say nothing of the sort.

For no one is declared righteous before him by the works of the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin. But now apart from the law the righteousness of God (which is attested by the law and the prophets) has been disclosed – namely, the righteousness of God through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:20-23 NET)

We are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners, yet we know that no one is justified by the works of the law but by the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by the faithfulness of Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified. … I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So the life I now live in the body, I live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside God’s grace, because if righteousness could come through the law, then Christ died for nothing! (Galatians 2:15-16, 20-21 NET).

More than that, I now regard all things as liabilities compared to the far greater value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things – indeed, I regard them as dung! – that I may gain Christ, and be found in him, not because I have my own righteousness derived from the law, but because I have the righteousness that comes by way of Christ’s faithfulness – a righteousness from God that is in fact based on Christ’s faithfulness. (Philippians 3:8-9 NET)

There is no “faith” versus “works” issue in Scripture. It’s simply an artificial distinction necessary for supporting sola fide. Because if we’re saved by faith alone, then there must be a term to call everything else that’s not faith—that term became known as “works.” But this isn’t what Paul was teaching in these three passages. He was arguing that righteousness is by Christ’s faithfulness to give Himself as a sacrifice for our sins, not by the works of the Law of Moses. The real issue is Christ’s faithfulness versus the works of the Law. Therefore, it would be more Scripturally accurate to say sola fidelitas! Salvation is by “faithfulness alone” because Christ’s faithfulness to die for our sins is the only way to be right with God.

The absurdity of sola fide becomes apparent when introduced into the context of human relationships. Take the workplace as somewhat of an example of our walk with God. Our time belongs to our employer. We abide by the company rules. We do the work we’re told to do while being dependable, honest, and faithful. We don’t always know why our employer wants us to do specific things but we trust that they know the bigger picture and how it will positively affect the overall health of the company and the community. We also know that since we’re simply doing what we’re told, we trust that our employer has our back if we were to experience any repercussions from doing an assignment. If we’re doing a good job we’ll be rewarded but if we’re doing poorly, then it can result in disciplinary action and possible termination. All of that makes sense.

Now, let’s interject “faith” or “belief” as the sole requisite for employment. Employees get hired because they express belief in their employer. After getting hired many of them argue among themselves about whether they were hired because they believe the employer, or if they believe the employer because they were hired. Some even dare to claim that their employer gave them the belief they needed to get hired. They also squabble about whether they do a good job because they believe the employer, or if they believe the employer because they do a good job. Of course some claim that job performance has a direct bearing on their security but others claim Once Employed Always Employed. Therefore, when someone quits or gets let go, those that embrace OEAE have to say, “Well, I guess they never really were employed, because if they had been they would have continued to be employed. Therefore, they never truly believed the employer!”

Trusting God

As with the noun pistis almost always translated as “faith” instead of “faithfulness,” the verb pisteuo is consistently rendered throughout the New Testament as “believe” instead of “trust.” Why is this? It’s because of bias toward the doctrine of salvation by faith or belief. When Paul cited Abraham’s righteousness before God, “Abraham believed [trusted] God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness” (Rom 4:3), it wasn’t to claim that he simply believed what God said but that he trusted God to do what He said. James wrote that his trust in God was displayed by obeying what He commanded, “Was not Abraham our father justified by works [actions], when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith [faithfulness] wrought with his works [actions], and by works [actions] was faith [faithfulness] made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed [trusted] God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.” (Jas 2:21-23).

Abraham’s actions of obedience, “because thou hast obeyed my voice” (Gen 22:18), justified what had been said about him years before, “And he believed [trusted] in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness” (Gen 15:6). This is what James meant by “justified by works [actions].” It accomplishes nothing to say we’re faithful yet not be faithful, “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith [faithfulness], and have not works [actions]?” (Jas 2:14). It’s better to say nothing at all and let our actions speak for themselves, “I will shew thee my faith [faithfulness] by my works [actions]” (Jas 2:18).

That Abraham “believed [trusted] in the LORD” (Gen 15:6), isn’t that he simply believed whatever God said—sure he did. It was that he put his trust in God and obeyed Him. It took tremendous trust to follow through with what God told him to do to his son Isaac, and not understanding how it was all going to work out. We’re even told, “Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead” (Heb 11:19). It’s the preeminent kind of trust Solomon would later pen, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding” (Pro 3:5).

That pisteuo should be translated “trust” rather than “believe” is also consistent with the Psalms being replete with injunctions to trust God: “Blessed are all they that put their trust in him” (Psa 2:12); “Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD” (Psa 4:5); “But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice” (Psa 5:11); “O LORD my God, in thee do I put my trust” (Psa 7:1); “And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee” (Psa 9:10); “In the LORD put I my trust” (Psa 11:1); “Preserve me, O God: for in thee do I put my trust” (Psa 16:1); “O thou that savest by thy right hand them which put their trust in thee” (Psa 17:7); “The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust” (Psa 18:2); “I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings” (Psa 61:4); “He is my refuge and my fortress: my God, in him will I trust” (Psa 91:2); “My goodness, and my fortress; my high tower, and my deliverer; my shield, and he in whom I trust” (Psa 144:2); “O my God, I trust in thee” (Psa 25:2);  “let me not be ashamed; for I put my trust in thee” (Psa 25:20); “In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust; let me never be ashamed” (Psa 31:1); “I have hated them that regard lying vanities: but I trust in the LORD” (Psa 31:6); “[Psa 37:3, 5, 40 KJV] 3 “Trust in the LORD, and do good” (Psa 37:3); “Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him” (Psa 37:5); “he shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in him” (Psa 37:40); “Blessed is that man that maketh the LORD his trust” (Psa 40:4); “I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever” (Psa 52:8); “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust” (Psa 56:3-4) “In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me” (Psa 56:11); “Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him” (Psa 62:8); “The righteous shall be glad in the LORD, and shall trust in him” (Psa 64:10); “In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust: let me never be put to confusion” (Psa 71:1); “For thou art my hope, O Lord GOD: thou art my trust from my youth” (Psa 71:5); “I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works” (Psa 73:28); “Ye that fear the LORD, trust in the LORD: he is their help and their shield” (Psa 115:11); “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man” (Psa 118:8); “But mine eyes are unto thee, O GOD the Lord: in thee is my trust” (Psa 141:8); “Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust” (Psa 143:8).

When Paul said, “and shalt believe [trust] in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Rom 10:9), he meant that we’re to believe Christ’s resurrection happened as a historical event. That’s a given. However, his predominant point was that we’re to trust God that raised Christ, “Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe [trust] on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead” (Rom 4:23-24). God counted Abraham in a right relationship because he trusted Him, “Abraham believed [trusted] God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness” (Rom 4:3). To “believe [trust] in thine heart” is to “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding” (Pro 3:5). Salvation is not by belief but by trusting God with all our hearts.

“For with the heart man believeth [trusts] unto righteousness” (Rom 10:10). We’re right with God by a continued trusting relationship with Him. If we can’t trust Him for our necessities of daily life, how can we trust Him for eternal life? If we can’t trust Him for our lesser needs, how can we trust Him for our greatest need—salvation from death? If we spend our lives taking matters into our own hands, then when the day of our death comes, how can we commit our breath into His hands, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit [breath]” (Luk 23:46)?

Paul went on to say, “For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth [trusts] on him shall not be ashamed” (Rom 10:11). And this is what David did, “O my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me” (Psa 25:2); “O keep my soul, and deliver me: let me not be ashamed; for I put my trust in thee” (Psa 25:20); “In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust; let me never be ashamed” (Psa 31:1). Salvation is living our lives and finally going to our deaths trusting that we’re not going to be put to shame or let down. It takes trust to suffer wrongfully with only God seeing it, “For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully” (1Pe 2:19). But He’s not going to let us down—our hope of the resurrection isn’t going to be put to shame, “And hope maketh not ashamed” (Rom 5:5). When we recognize that salvation is getting victory over death when Christ returns to raise the dead, then we’ll trust God unto death with confidence that we won’t be let down but will be raised to eternal life.

It’s faithfulness and trust that pleases God, “But without faith [faithfulness] it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe [trust] that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Heb 11:6). All of the “By faith …” examples in Hebrews chapter 11 are really “By faithfulness …” examples. Their faithfulness to God consummated with Christ’s faithfulness, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith [faithfulness]; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb 12:2). Christ’s faithfulness to endure the cross is the beginning and ending purpose for the faithfulness of everyone before Him. There’s no explanation for their faithfulness apart from His.

The distinction of a Christian

At the conclusion of the first evangelistic message of the church age, Peter said, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost [Breath]” (Act 2:38-39). The distinction of a Christian is that our sins have been forgiven, and that we have the gift of the indwelling Holy Breath as a pledge of salvation from death. Our salvation is twofold because we need to be saved from two things—sin and death. We need our sins forgiven so we can have a right relationship with God, but we also need victory over death so we can live forever with God. Of course Christ saved us from both sin and death but we only have forgiveness of sins right now. We have yet to experience salvation from death for the obvious reason that we all still die.

True Christians have God’s Breath dwelling in their hearts: “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit [Breath], if so be that the Spirit [Breath] of God dwell in you” (Rom 8:9); “But if the Spirit [Breath] of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit [Breath] that dwelleth in you” (Rom 8:11); “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit [Breath] of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father” (Rom 8:15); “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost [Breath] which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” (1Co 6:19); “And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (2Co 6:16); “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit [Breath] of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father” (Gal 4:6); “In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit [Breath]” (Eph 2:22); “That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost [Breath] which dwelleth in us” (2Ti 1:14); “And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit [Breath] which he hath given us.” (1Jo 3:24).

Since we’re physical beings, there is no internal change from some kind of spiritual death to spiritual life at conversion. Nothing changes inside because there’s nothing to change. We do, however, begin receiving God’s Breath into our hearts at conversion. His Breath is not a one-time deposit as if dropping a quarter into a jukebox. But as with our natural breathing, it’s a continual breathing and infilling in our hearts: “Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost [Breath]” (Luk 1:41); “And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost [Breath]” (Luk 1:67); “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost [Breath]” (Act 4:8); “And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost [Breath]” (Act 4:31); “that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost [Breath]” (Act 9:17); “Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost [Breath]” (Act 13:9).

God’s Breath in our hearts is the earnest, guarantee, or pledge that we will be resurrected from the dead: “But if the Spirit [Breath] of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit [Breath] that dwelleth in you” (Rom 8:11); “Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit [Breath] in our hearts” (2Co 1:22); “God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit [Breath]” (2Co 5:5); “ye were sealed with that holy Spirit [Breath] of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance” (Eph 1:13-14).

We continue in Him by His Breath continuing in us

In his first letter, John spoke of the anointing or Holy Breath continuing in us, “But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth [continues] in you” (1Jo 2:27), “And hereby we know that he abideth [continues] in us, by the Spirit [Breath] which he hath given us” (1Jo 3:24), “Hereby know we that we dwell [continue] in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit [Breath]” (1Jo 4:13).

Jesus’ parable of the Vine and Branches was a directive to the remaining eleven disciples to continue in Him, “Abide [continue] in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide [continue] in me” (Jhn 15:4). Judas Iscariot didn’t continue in the Son, therefore the Breath of the Father didn’t continue in him, “If a man abide [continue] not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned” (Jhn 15:6). Jesus had said that he was a child of the Father by His Breath, “For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit [Breath] of your Father which speaketh in you” (Mat 10:20), “how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit [Breath] to them that ask him?” (Luk 11:13). But the Father’s Breath left him and the enemy entered, “And after the sop Satan entered into him” (Jhn 13:27).

When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace: But when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils. He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth. When the unclean spirit [breath] is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out. And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits [breaths] more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. (Luke 11:21-26)

Because we’ve all sinned, we’ve all become slaves to sin: “Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin” (Jhn 8:34); “For when ye were the servants of sin” (Rom 6:20); “I am carnal, sold under sin” (Rom 7:14); “for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage” (2Pe 2:19); “He that committeth sin is of the devil” (1Jo 3:8). Because we’re slaves to sin, we have an unclean breath in our hearts and we’re held by this “strong man” that’s stronger than ourselves. We’re simply powerless to overcome this bondage. But when we come to Christ, God gives us His Holy Breath that is stronger than the unclean breath and drives it out. His Breath in us is greater than the unclean breath in the rest of the world, “greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1Jo 4:4).

We depend on the strength of His Breath continually to overcome the enemy: “That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man” (Eph 3:16); “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might” (Eph 6:10); “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phl 4:13); “Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness” (Col 1:11).

However, if we don’t continue in Him, then God’s Breath won’t continue in us and that unclean breath will return and bring more: “I will return unto my house whence I came out. And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits [breaths] more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.” (Luk 11:24-26); “In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will” (2Ti 2:25-26); “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning” (2Pe 2:20).

Jesus said that blasphemy against the Breath will never be forgiven, “Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost [Breath] shall not be forgiven unto men” (Mat 12:31). This is what happened to King Saul, “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry” (1Sa 15:23), “But the Spirit [Breath] of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit [breath] from the LORD troubled him” (1Sa 16:14). God knows our hearts and is merciful to sincere ignorance of the truth. But once we’re no longer ignorant yet stubbornly rebel, we’re in danger of blaspheming against His Breath for which there will never be mercy or forgiveness. David knew that this is what happened to Saul and feared greatly that his sin would result in the same fate, “Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit [breath] from me” (Psa 51:11).

John wrote that until Christ returns, remaining or continuing in fellowship with the Son and the Father is conditional, “If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain [continue] in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father” (1Jo 2:24), “And now, little children, abide [continue] in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming” (1Jo 2:28). However, once we’ve been “born of God” at His coming, remaining or continuing is unconditional, “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth [continues] in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God” (1Jo 3:9). We absolutely will remain and continue in Him at that point because we can never sin again.

Once we’ve been resurrected after the same likeness as Christ’s resurrection, we’ll be in the same state of righteousness. In other words, there’s no more possibility of us sinning than Him sinning. We’ll truly be that secure! For something to happen to us, it would have to happen to Him too which is what He meant when He said, “By myself have I sworn” (Gen 22:16). He is the promise and guarantee of our eternal life.

Paul taught that resurrection from death is like a seed springing from the ground to life, “Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body” (1Co 15:36-38). A seed produces after its kind and it’s in the fruit, “the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself … the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind” (Gen 1:11-12). Therefore, like a seed, if we’re faithful to death “after his kind,” we’ll be resurrected from the dead “after his kind.” Our security will be in Him forever because the seed is in the fruit, “his seed remaineth [continues] in him” (1Jo 3:9).

Finishing the race in faithfulness

Salvation from death at Christ’s return comes to those that belong to Him and go to their deaths in faithful service to Him: “whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s” (Rom 14:8); “fallen asleep in Christ” (1Co 15:18); “in Christ shall all be made alive” (1Co 15:22); “they that are Christ’s at his coming” (1Co 15:23), “the dead in Christ” (1Th 4:16); “the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus” (2Ti 1:1); “These all died in faith [faithfulness]” (Heb 11:13); “be thou faithful unto death” (Rev 2:10); “the dead which die in the Lord” (Rev 14:13).

Several times Paul likened salvation to running a race: “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain” (1Co 9:24); “Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?” (Gal 5:7); “Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain” (Phl 2:16); “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith [faithfulness]” (2Ti 4:7).

That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:10-14)

Here in Philippians, Paul didn’t count himself to have apprehended the resurrection but viewed it as a prize that he was striving to attain. He had said earlier in his letter, “Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain” (Phl 2:16). The prize at the finish line is resurrection “in the day of Christ.”

For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith [faithfulness]: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:6-8)

Although earlier in his life Paul didn’t count himself to have apprehended, before his death he did. He considered at this point his race to be finished and had been faithful to death. And he saw his reward coming on the day of “his appearing.”

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith [faithfulness]; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

The men and women in the Old Testament “died in faith [faithfulness]” (Heb 11:13). They had a race set before them and finished by being faithful unto death. Of course Jesus Christ Himself is the quintessential example of dying in faithfulness which is why we should be “looking unto” Him.

God designed the creation itself to teach us about salvation, “In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it” (Psa 19:4-6). From man’s perspective, the sun rises in the east and shines its light, then sets in the west leaving us in darkness. It’s seemingly on a fixed course of travel from beginning to end. And this is similar to a race. The course is set and strong men or athletes must run the entire circuit and cross the finish line at the end.

Salvation isn’t so much about how we start as it is how we finish, and the finish line is the same for all of us—death. We must cross the finish line in faithfulness. This doesn’t mean necessarily that we must die a martyr. We’re told “These all died in faith [faithfulness]” (Heb 11:13), yet some of them—even the greatest of them, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and David—died natural deaths. It’s that we live in a faithful and trusting relationship with God until the day we die.

Once Saved Always Saved is dangerous

The doctrine of unconditional eternal security or Once Saved Always Saved (OSAS) is the fruit of an erroneous view of salvation based on a faulty view of man. If man is an eternal non-physical being that is spiritually dead, then salvation and eternal life is a change from spiritual death to spiritual life that we have now. And since we have eternal life now, then we’re eternally secure now. After all, as proponents of OSAS jeer, since eternal life is eternal, how could it be forfeited or lost? It’s eternal by very definition.

Advocates of OSAS are right that salvation can’t be lost but wrong about what and when it is. Salvation or eternal life isn’t an inner change from spiritual death to spiritual life now. It’s resurrection from the dead to eternal life at the return of the Lord. It’s at that point we’ll truly be OSAS! It’s correct to recognize that eternal life truly is eternal, but incorrect to suppose we have it right now.

Jesus’ statement, “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (Jhn 10:28), is a favorite those championing OSAS. And He was speaking of eternal security but once we have eternal life. It’s because we can never die again that nobody can ever harm us again, “And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do” (Luk 12:4). Eternal security is being in the presence of the Lord forever, “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1Th 4:17). Once we’re born of God, we’ll continue in Him forever, “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth [continues] in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God” (1Jo 3:9). And this security is unconditional because we cannot sin ever again.

Salvation isn’t a formula. It isn’t doing ‘A’ to get ‘B.’ Yet a faith-confession formula is essentially what’s being taught today in mainstream Protestant Christianity. But if salvation is by a formula, then assurance of salvation is by the same formula. If we’re saved by 4 Steps to Peace with God, then assurance comes by stressing to ourselves that we completed the 4 Steps.

Salvation comes to those that have a right relationship with God, and relationships don’t function by formulas. Just try using formulas on your spouse. I found it doesn’t work! In this life Christians are forgiven and have a right relationship with God that will consummate in salvation from death when Christ returns. Since we’re not even saved at this point, there’s no such thing as losing or forfeiting salvation. We can’t lose what we don’t have. What we have is a right relationship with God and relationships can be severed or broken.

Some hold a misconception that God is obligated to save us—not just that He can but that He must. If we’ve performed the faith-confession formula, then we’re saved and always will be. It’s almost as though we’re now in control and God must always nod in agreement. But it’s God that saves us and He is in control. He sent His only begotten Son to sacrifice Himself for our sins so that we could be forgiven and have a right relationship with Him. But we’re still at His mercy even after we’ve been forgiven. He doesn’t have to do anything for us.

Wisdom begins with fearing God, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” (Psa 111:10; Pro 9:10). It’s the fear that He absolutely will exact the punishment for our sins that prompts our obedience to His Son Jesus Christ. The reason the false doctrine of OSAS is so dangerous is that it diminishes the fear of the Lord. If we’re already saved right now and can never lose it, then the consequences for our sins have forever been removed. Why fear God anymore? If we’re eternally secure right now, then there are no more consequences for our sins. It doesn’t matter if we sin, or how we treat each other. Nothing we do or don’t do ultimately matters because we’re “getting in” no matter what. Now, of course, few Christians would ever admit thinking this way.

The fear of possibly falling away from Christ is a good thing not a bad thing. The warning passages in Scripture, most notably, “If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame” (Heb 6:6), “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,” (Heb 10:26), are for our benefit to help prevent us from falling away. God doesn’t want us to ultimately perish and gave such warning passages to help prevent this from happening. They act somewhat like a safety net. But OSAS is dangerous because it voids and nullifies the warnings and contributes to Christians falling away. Those who teach OSAS are unwittingly helping facilitate the falling away of Christians!

The real question we should ask isn’t if we’re OSAS but rather if we’re Once Forgiven Always Forgiven. In Matthew 18, Jesus told a parable about a king that forgave one of his servants a tremendous debt but then later put all of the debt right back on his account, “Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt” (Mat 18:27), “And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him” (Mat 18:34). Jesus then stated that this is likewise how God the Father will do to us, “So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses” (Mat 18:35). We can be forgiven and at peace with God but then later no longer forgiven and become His enemy again.

Though we’ve been forgiven by God, He won’t continue to forgive us if we don’t forgive others: “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Mat 6:14-15); “And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.” (Mar 11:25-26); “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Eph 4:32); “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye” (Col 3:13); “For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment” (Jas 2:13).

We do a disservice to people by simply helping them feel at ease and more comfortable about their salvation. We should be helping them be saved even if they have to be made quite uncomfortable and possibly fearful. It’s not about making people happy but keeping them from perishing.

Our salvation from death in resurrection is contingent upon a continued right relationship with God unto our deaths. Proponents of OSAS like to badger that if salvation can be lost, then at what point does it happen? But that question is a ruse because we’re not even saved. We can’t lose what we don’t have. As far as the possibility of our relationship with God being permanently broken—at what point it happens, what causes it to happen, how it can be known that it happened—there’s no simple answer because relationships aren’t simple! It’s God’s prerogative to allow our relationship to continue, or to severe it at any point along the way. He can decide to cast us from His presence and take His Breath away, “Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit [breath] from me” (Psa 51:11).

Assurance of salvation

Many Christians are desperate for assurance of salvation because they’ve been wrongly taught that the destiny of the unsaved is eternal burning alive. When the consequences of being unsaved are that unimaginably horrifying, assurance becomes highly critical. But learning the truth that annihilation is the antithesis of eternal life puts assurance or lack thereof in its proper context and perspective. Annihilation certainly isn’t a desirable destiny either yet is far more palatable.

When it comes to assurance, the first thing we need to concede is that having it isn’t always a good thing because of false assurance. Being falsely assured of having something we don’t have is not only unconstructive but also destructive. Because wrongly supposing we already have what we want prevents us from ever getting it. False assurance we’re already saved almost guarantees we never will be.

People belonging to false religions and cults many times have an assurance of salvation but it’s false. Assurance is good only when it’s true. Rather than seeking assurance necessarily, our pursuit should be for further knowledge of the truth. The more truth we gain—knowledge of reality or the actual state—the better off we’ll be.

The main reason many Christians struggle with assurance of salvation is because they’ve been taught a wrong view of man and his salvation—a false view of reality or its actual state. Therefore, they’re trying to gain assurance of something that isn’t true and get something that can’t be had. The first step toward having the kind of assurance God intends for us to have is acknowledging the truth that man is a physical being whose final destiny is either eternal life with Christ in His Kingdom or complete annihilation from existence. Next, we must recognize that none of us are saved right now but will be saved and have eternal life once we’re raised from the dead at the return of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The starting point of assurance, therefore, is identifying exactly what we need assurance of. Since salvation isn’t an inner change in the state of being, we shouldn’t be pursuing assurance of that. We simply can’t have true assurance of something we don’t have. What we do have is forgiveness of sins and a right relationship with God the Father. And the assurance that we’re right with Him and belong to Him as dear children, comes only from Him.

It’s walking with God daily in a faithful and trusting relationship that strengthens our assurance that we’re forgiven and right with Him. Jesus told us, “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on … Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (Mat 6:25, 34). Trusting God to sustain our daily lives assures us He’s going to give us eternal life. Experiencing Him is the greatest assurance! We can know we’re His children when we trust Him and He takes care of us as our loving Father.

I’ll share a personal experience that bolstered my assurance tremendously. There was a time when I was in a dire situation that I had tried and tried to fix myself rather than trusting God. Finally, the day came that everything was about to fall apart and I was greatly disturbed and shook up about what was going to happen. At the end of my ropes so to speak, I was sitting in my car and just cried out in tears for God to help me. At that very instant He spoke this verse to my mind, “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (Mat 6:34). It was the most real encounter with God I’ve ever experienced. There was no doubt that He spoke to my mind. It made me realize that I hadn’t been trusting God with all my heart, or even very much at all. At that moment I committed to start trusting Him every day and no longer worry about tomorrow. What’s more is that for the rest of that day, He gave me peace inside that passes all understanding, “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phl 4:7). It didn’t make sense that I could have peace through that particular situation yet I wasn’t the least bit worried. In the end, the entire circumstance worked itself out without doing anything myself. The assurance I received that day, as well as many other times since, were from God Himself.

On the negative side, God’s discipline also assures us of being His children, “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?” (Heb 12:6-7). I could also tell of a time when I went through a long period of His discipline because I wasn’t living right before Him. Enduring that span of difficulty certainly wasn’t pleasant yet was effective at not only getting me back on track but also assuring me of being His child.

God tries and tests our faithfulness to Him, and proven faithfulness is great assurance: “But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10); “The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the LORD trieth the hearts” (Pro 17:3); “And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried” (Zec 13:9); “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith [faithfulness] worketh patience” (Jas 1:2-3); “That the trial of your faith [faithfulness], being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (1Pe 1:7).

Our prayer life is another tremendous source of assurance. Of course I’ve had times when my prayers weren’t answered, but other times they were answered and even almost immediately. I can remember numerous occasions when I needed an answer to something urgently and it was given to my mind and heart right away in answer to prayer. But then there have also been times when the answer wasn’t needed urgently and God gave it to me days, months, or even years later when I wasn’t even thinking about it. What great assurance of belonging to Him when we receive the right answer to something and we weren’t even trying to get it.

The final means of assurance we’ll mention is forgiveness when we repent of sin. That feeling of the burden of guilt lifting and having a clear conscience is a great assurance that God is continuing to count us right with Him. Of course the ideal scenario is to not sin in the first place. However, a clear conscience after repenting of a sin is a great assurance of our continued relationship with God.

Conclusion

Pastors watch for the souls of the flock they oversee, “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you” (Heb 13:17). If they truly love Jesus Christ and His flock, they’ll make every effort to be sure they’re teaching the truth about salvation. It’s not their fault they were taught a false view in seminary. However, they become culpable once they come to the knowledge of the truth.

Saul of Tarsus was shown mercy because he had been sincerely ignorant, “Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief” (1Ti 1:13). But after he came to the knowledge of the truth, Christ required him to embrace it along with the accompanying sufferings. With knowledge comes a decision that we’re held accountable for. We can decide to either continue teaching what we’ve come to know is false, or begin teaching what we now know is the truth.

Christians are confused, fearful, and deceived about salvation. They’ve been taught truthfully that salvation comes only through Jesus Christ, but falsely about what they are and what salvation is. They’ve been taught that they’re an eternal non-physical being that will leave the body at death and go to either heaven or hell forever, and the prospect of burning alive forever is unthinkable. Therefore, since they’re saved by faith alone and they’ve made the faith-confession, they’re good to go! They’ve had the internal change in the state of being from spiritual death to spiritual life—born again to a new creature. They’re now saved and always will be. But if doubts creep in about their salvation, they only need to remind themselves that they made the faith-confession.

If we love the Lord Jesus Christ and we love people, we’ll tell people the truth about salvation, “But speaking the truth in love” (Eph 4:15). We’ll tell them what the Creator Himself said that they are, “for dust thou art” (Gen 3:19), and we’ll tell them what salvation is—that it’s being forgiven and right with God now, then getting the victory over death at Christ’s return. We’ll tell them that being right with God comes by repenting of their sins and declaring that Jesus Christ is their Lord in public water baptism. At that point they’ll begin receiving God’s Breath into their hearts to live by His strength as if they’re a completely new person from the old. They’ll live in faithfulness and obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ, and a trusting relationship with God as their Father. Their assurance will come from their continued relationship with God—remaining in Christ and God’s Breath remaining in them. But along with this blessed relationship also comes suffering for Christ’s sake, for His name and glory. Their faithfulness will be tested many times but if they’ll remain faithful and die “in Christ,” if they’ll finish this “race” they started, they’ll be born from above—raised to eternal life at Christ’s return from above. They’ll be with the Lord forever in His Kingdom on this earth in the renewed creation. They won’t go to live with God, He will come to live with them, “And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God” (Rev 21:3).