Obstacles To Eternal Security?

 

All the threats and warnings
of the Bible declare with one voice:
sin is an effort to feel secure in
anything other than God.

 

LambsOne of the great obstacles to the enjoyment of this security is the apparent contradiction found in so many New Testament scriptures. Just when we start to feel that we are eternally secure in his love, along comes a passage of scripture that threatens us and seems to rob us of security. And I don’t think there will be any deep, abiding sense of security in God until we own up to these passages of scripture and see how they relate to the assurance of God’s love and power.
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For example, take this sampling from nine New Testament books. Romans 11:20- 21, “Unbelieving Israelites were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast only through faith. So do not become proud but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you.” 1 Corinthians 10:12, “Let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” Also 15:2, “I preached to you the gospel by which you are saved if you hold it fast — unless you believed in vain.” 2 Corinthians 13:5, “Examine yourself to see whether you are holding to your faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you — unless you fail to meet the test!” Galatians 6:9, “Let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart.” Philippians 2:12, “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” Colossians 1:21-23, “You who were estranged Christ has reconciled in order to present you holy and blameless provided that you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel.” Hebrews 12:14, “Strive for peace and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” 1 Peter 1:17, “If you invoke as Father him who judges each one impartially according to his deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile.” Revelation 2:10, “Be faithful unto death and I will give you the crown of life.”
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All of these passages teach that the test of genuineness for the Christian is perseverance in faith and holiness of life. They warn us that the attempt to offer security apart from lasting faith and loving lives is perilous. We might succeed and give someone security at the price of destruction.
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But it would be a terrible misunderstanding if we thought that these scriptures were written to threaten our security in God. Exactly the opposite is the case. They are written to threaten our security in everything but God. If you find your security in health, the Bible is a threat to you. If you find your security in your family or job or money or education, the Bible is a threat to you. And in threatening all these utterly inadequate foundations of security, the Bible drives us relentlessly and lovingly back to the one and only eternal and unshakable foundation for security — God.
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All the threats and warnings of the Bible declare with one voice: sin is an effort to feel secure in anything other than God.Therefore, when God demands on the one hand, “Turn from sinning or you will die,” and on the other hand, “Feel eternally secure in my love, and you will live,” he is not demanding two different things. Sin is what you do when you replace security in God with the other things. So when God threatens our feelings of security in the world, it’s because he wants us to feel secure in his love and power. The threats and promises of Scripture have one message: seek your security in God alone.

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Please note: The above content is but a small portion of a larger sermon manuscript.
The complete Text and Audio is available at Desiring God
 
About John Piper
John Piper is pastor for preaching and vision at Bethlehem Baptist Church in the Twin Cities of Minnesota. He grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, and studied at Wheaton College, Fuller Theological Seminary (B.D.), and the University of Munich (D.theol.). For six years he taught Biblical Studies at Bethel College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and in 1980 accepted the call to serve as pastor at Bethlehem. John is the author of more than 40 books and more than 30 years of his preaching and teaching is available free at desiringGod.org. John and his wife, Noel, have four sons, one daughter, and twelve grandchildren.

Beware of Exemplar Christi Preaching

 

Ok, the latin in the title was completely unnecessary…

 
…but perhaps it provokes the question: what am I referring to?
It is a common and not altogether inappropriate form of preaching.  It is probably occurring in a significant number of sermons every Sunday.  It can even be justified biblically.  But I’d like to wave a warning flag.
Exemplar Christi preaching is where Jesus is offered as an example to us.  An example for us to copy.  He is the model, so go thou and do likewise.  Some quick points to provoke our pondering:
1. He is an example to us, but first and foremost he is Christ to us.
Jesus did not come primarily to offer a role model, but to give himself in order to bring us into a relationship with God.  In that relationship he is exemplary in lots of ways, but the goal is fellowship, not cloning.
2. Exemplar preaching tends to focus on outward conduct, but the Bible treats us as inside-out creatures.
There is a longstanding tradition of pursuing spirituality by an outside-to-in approach.  Do the right thing and everything else will follow.  The problem is that some longstanding traditions trace their roots right back to a hissing individual in a garden.  The Bible points to the inner issues of heart and spirit . . . is the heart transformed by the presence of the life and love of God, the Spirit?  If it isn’t, then out of it will spew all forms of ungodliness, including self-righteous pseudo-godliness.
3. Exemplar preaching points to empowerment, but often an inadequate form of it.
Of course, we can only copy Christ by the empowerment of the Spirit.  However, the Spirit’s empowerment is often portrayed as a battery recharge for our personal efforts, rather than the very presence of life itself due to our union with Christ by His Spirit.
4. Make application an issue of response, not just an issue of copying.
Preach Christ and encourage response to Him.  Don’t just preach Christ and then, typically, encourage replication of His behaviours.  We go into our mission in this world with Christ, not just copying Him (I am with you always).  We approach and worship the Father with Christ.  We seek to build up the church with Christ.  He certainly is an example to us, but we don’t go into the week with an image of a distant Jesus in our minds.  We go into the week in relationship to a present Jesus in our hearts by His Spirit, and that makes all the difference in the world.
Thought: application of response, not just copy
Leave a comment at Cor Deo.
~ Peter
 
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://christmycovenant.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Peter-Mead.png[/author_image] [author_info]Dr Peter Mead is a Bible teacher and ministry trainer, based in southern England. His main ministry is as co-director and mentor of Cor Deo, a full-time mentored study and ministry training program.  Peter leads the Advanced Bible Teachers Network at the European Leadership Forum.  He holds degrees from Multnomah Biblical Seminary (MDiv/MA), and the Doctor of Ministry degree in homiletics from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where Dr Haddon Robinson was his mentor.  For more information on Cor Deo, including the weekly theological blog, please visit www.cordeo.org.uk. Peter also authors the BiblicalPreaching.net website for preachers.[/author_info] [/author] [button link=”http://www.biblicalpreaching.net” newwindow=”yes”] Visit Biblical Preaching[/button] [button link=”http://www.cordeo.org.uk/” newwindow=”yes”] Visit Cor Deo[/button]