More On Salvation

Jesusalone was not satisfied with his interpretation of my response above.

The response offered to the problem is not satisfactory to me because the word of God offers two specific guidelines that have been neglected

When I write a response, my primary intention is to address the specific issue on the board. Granted, there may well be a multitude of peripheral issues in the question or challenge, and I may address some of them, but my focus is on the issue that prompted my correspondent to write. I believe it would be helpful when reading what I write to keep the target issue in mind.

As I understood the issues, the writer was commenting on something I had written about spiritual contentment and asking readers to pray for her marriage. Her request for prayer needed no response other than those those who read her post pray in his behalf. I chose to address her comment about spiritual contentment.

I wanted her to know that I had been and was living in a situation similar to her own, that I was writing from my own experiences. That is why I provided the example of my wife’s involvement with the black hole of Catholicism. It was not my purpose to pass judgment on the writer or her husband, as Jesusalone appears to have done in his out-of-context evaluation of what I wrote.

1. The Bible says "Old things are passed away, behold ALL things are new." This simply means that once old ways of life, old traditions, and predominantly going out with the same set of friends prevail, true conversion has not yet taken place.

That is not at all what the verse means. Jesusalone here cites words from Paul’s second letter to the church at Corinth:

16 Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.
17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
-- 2 Corinthians 5:16-17

These verses are from a passage treating on man’s reconciliation to God, which includes verses 12 through 20 of that chapter. In verse 16, the Apostle is explaining that, since his conversion, he no longer evaluates people by measuring them against external, worldly or human standards. From his words we can see that his appreciation of Christ is no longer founded on those fallible worldly standards.

In verse 17, Paul writes of the new birth, or regeneration, which changes sinful man into something significantly more excellent. Once regenerated, his former beliefs, values, priorities, loves, plans, etc., disappear. This is not to be understood that the new creation has no flaws; that he is perfect. Sin and evil are still there, but he now views them differently and they no longer control him. He now perceives things spiritually and no longer lives for worldly things but for eternity.

And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;-- 2 Corinthians 5:18

In the next verse, we are reminded that everything having to do with the regeneration of fallen man are of God. There is no indication that man must or can do anything in the process; certainly nothing that suggests that man must choose to believe. It appears, therefore, that even saving faith is a gift from God, not an elective act on the part of man. Our part in the salvific process comes after regeneration; and that is to serve Him by proclaiming a desire to be reconciled to God.

 

Jesusalone then enters the easily misinterpreted world of prophecy:

2. The Bible says "Come out of her my people, that you be not partakers of her sins."

The words Jesusalone cites here are from the book of Revelation, from a larger passage dealing with things to come during the Tribulation:

And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.-- Revelation 18:4

“Come out of her….” Who is “her?” Jesusalone appears to identify “her” with the Roman Catholic Church. Mama Church has few more committed enemies than me. I consider the RCC to be more than apostate. I consider it to be a cult, a pagan cult that denies the true Christ of Scripture and instead worships a pantheon of gods and demigods, things and ideas. I do not, however, believe that she is “Mystery Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and of the abominations of the Earth.” (Revelation 17:5). It may well be that she is a precursor of the Harlot but, then, so might some other religious system perhaps not yet with us. Chapter 17 of Revelation sketches the judgment on the Great Harlot, the apostate religious system that will exist in the Tribulation period. The unbelieving professing church will enter into the Tribulation (Revelation 2:22 and 3:10) and morph into a monster religious system dominated by the Great Harlot.

Jesusalone continues:

Attending mass is idolatry in God's eyes and as the apostle Paul confirmed to the Corinthians it is impossible to eat from the Lord's table and Satan's table at the same time.

I could not agree more that worshipping (latria) the cookie god in the Eucharistic celebration called the Mass is idolatry. Certainly the worship (hyper dulia) tendered to Catholic Mary and/or any of the multitudes of Catholic demigods (dulia) called saints violates God’s clear command to have no other gods before Him:

2 I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
-- Exodus 20:2-5

Chapter 18 of Revelation, from which Jesusalone drew his proof text, describes the fall of Babylon the Great, which is that false religious system established by the False Prophet to worship the Beast. In the verse cited by Jesusalone, God seems to be calling the Tribulation saints to leave the false religious system. Or He may be calling the elect to abandon the world system and come to faith in the Savior.

Jesusalone had more to say:

Even if a person should get saved while they are still attending the Catholic church, the indwelling Holy Spirit would certainly guide the person out of the temple of idols within a short time. So again, if the old ways of going to mass have not been changed, then salvation cannot have taken place.

I am concerned when people choose to speak for God, to tell us what He will do, unless they care able to provide clear exegesis of specific Scriptural passages that support their prophetic statements. While I agree that our Lord has the power even to regenerate lost souls who are active in the Catholic Church, I cannot agree with Jesusalone’s declaration that the Holy Spirit certainly would bring such persons out of that cult in a short time. While that seems to be quite likely, I can think of at least one reason that He might choose to leave a person where he is for more than a short time. Not having the prophetic vision or ability to know what God will do in such a situation, I can consider that the Holy Spirit might leave a person to tarry in the Romish cult in order to use him and his new faith as a catalyst to reach others who also are sinking in the muck of Catholicism. But what do I know? I have never claimed to speak God’s oracles.

I also believe that it is not possible for any person to know absolutely the eternal state of any other person; to declare with certainty that a person is or is not saved.

Jesusalone then provided his understanding of God’s pending judgment.

God told us that He is going to judge the Catholic church and everybody that is part of it. By going there you are part of it, just like you are part of a prostitute by going in with her.

I have devoted a lot of time to reading and studying the Scriptures, but I cannot recall ever having read in them that God will judge organizations. It is my understanding that all souls ever created will one day be called before the Great White Throne

11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
-- Revelation 20:11-13

How wonderful that believers need have no fear of standing before the Judgment Seat of Christ:

-- John 5:24

Jesusalone’s words strongly suggest to me that he believes the apostate Catholic Church to be the Great Harlot of Revelation 17:5

And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.

Is Jesusalone correct in his assessment? I think not. I have no love for the Roman Catholic Church, which I believe to be apostate. However, I believe that, while it is easy to link her with the Great Harlot by carefully choosing proof texts, I do not believe that she is. That false religious system will be led by the False Prophet, or second beast, who cannot be the leader of the Roman Catholic cult in this time. The False Prophet is fully described in Revelation 13, verses 11-17.

And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.-- Revelation 13:11

In that the second beast, or False Prophet, rises up out of the ground, clearly a reference to Palestine, he must be a Jew. Since only God can restore life, he cannot be a resurrected individual. He will be influential in the religious arena and will be motivated by Satan (dragon). He cannot be Satan, for we know from Revelation 9:11 that Satan is “the angel of the bottomless pit.” Revelation 9:17 does not teach that the leader of the unholy empire arose from the abyss, but rather that it was brought about “from the abyss,” or by Satan. The current leader of the Catholic Church is German, and his predecessor was Polish.

And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.-- Revelation 13:12

In this verse we see that the False Prophet exercises authority delegated to him by the “power of the first beast.” He will promote worship of the first beast and to compel all the earth to worship the first beast as God.

And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,-- Revelation 13:13

And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.-- Revelation 13:14

In these verses we see that his ministry will be authenticated by signs and miracles, evidently proving to the masses that he is Elijah that was to come.

And he succeeds in deceiving the unbelieving world.

And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.-- Revelation 13:15

The worship that he will promote will be idolatrous, and he will have the power to compel men to worship the beast.

And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:-- Revelation 13:16

And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.-- Revelation 13:17

He will have such authority in the economic arena that he will be able to control all commerce.

I am not aware that the Roman Catholic Church or its leader possess the great powers described above, so it would seem inappropriate to label that apostate and idolatrous community as the Whore of Babylon.

Jesusalone had more words of judgment to pass along:

God's word is final on these issues, therefore let us be guided by God's word alone and not by what we may or may not be able to perceive in someone. To continue going to the temple of idols on a regular basis shows and can mean nothing else but that the person in question has never left the broad road that leads to destruction.

Am I alone is noting inconsistency here? Jesusalone argues that we should “be guided by God’s word alone and not by what we may or may not be able to perceive in someone.” He then goes on to describe perceptions of the behavior of others that “can mean nothing else but that the person in question” is still on the wide path that leads to destruction. Am I alone in seeing here a clear parallel to the “do as I say, not as I do” religious position of the Pharisees? (Matthew 23:13) I urge a careful reading of Matthew 23.

The idea that one might act in God’s name and sit in judgment over all those who fail to live up to one’s personal interpretation of God’s can be alluring. In my Pentecostal days, it was easy for me to judge as unsaved anyone who did not worship as I did. It was years before I came to fully accept that God is inscrutable, as are His ways, and for me to place arbitrary limits on His grace or mercy was inappropriate.

While it is true that Scripture tells us the saints will judge all things, it does not declare that we have the power or authority to adjudge the eternal state of another:

Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers.-- 1 Corinthians 6:2-6

The above is from a passage wherein Paul remonstrates with the church at Corinth because someone had sued another member in a secular court. Scripture tells us that the saints will assist Christ to judge the world in the Millennial Kingdom (Revelation 2:26-27, 3:21; Daniel 7:22). The Apostle argues that the members of the church are more than qualified with the truth, the Holy Spirit, gifts and other resources they have in Christ to settle small matters that arise among themselves.

It should be noted that the Greek word translated as “judge” angels may alternately be translated as “rule” or “govern.” This strongly suggests that the saints will have some authority over holy angels, since angels are “ministering spirits” to serve the saints ((Hebrews 1:14). The fate of fallen angels already has been determined.

Jesusalone provides an example of his ability to find things in his reading that are not mentioned in the material:

To the writer with the original problem: Pray for your wife and together with her. Try to read the scriptures together with her and discuss them, especially passages on salvation by grace through faith alone. Above all, show her the love that Christ has given you for her. You are foremost called to win her for Christ through the way you act in your life with her. God's commandment is that we must not divorce what God has joined together. Stay close to Christ and He will see you through.

There is nothing in my original post to suggest that the person to whom I responded was the husband of an unsaved wife, yet Jesusalone has used his special powers to ascertain that the wife was the weaker vessel and, therefore, the one unsaved in that marriage. The question to which I responded was written by a woman, whose marriage was in trouble due to her husband's steadfast allegiance to the Catholic Church. An example of how easy it is to judge wrongly based upon one’s own preconceptions.

The advice to pray for the partner still clinging to the empty promises of Catholicism parallels my own suggestion to help the writer find spiritual contentment and the partner to come out of the Catholic Church:

Perhaps your situation would be made easier if you were to accept that it is God who calls, not man. By all means, continue to open the Gospel truth in your home, but perhaps it would be well to do so in a non-confrontational manner. Despite all Catholicism’s claims to have brought tens of millions of pagans to salvation – all too often by the sword – no one can save anyone. That is God’s exclusive province. A big part of trusting God has to do with being in submission to His will. Granted, it is painful to consider that a loved one might spend eternity separated from God, but if it is His will, so be it. What can we do? Continue sharing the Gospel and praying for those we love - that God will pour out His saving grace upon them.

Jesusalone closed with this mantra:

Jesus alone saves

Certainly, Jesus made possible the salvation of fallen man through His ministry and substitutional sacrifice; however, I believe that statement to be excessively simplistic. I believe it more accurate to say that salvation is by grace along, through faith alone, by Christ alone. Once again, I wish to make it clear that even saving faith is a gift from our Sovereign God and not something that fallen man comes up with on his own.

A more complete summary of the Reformers’ foundational beliefs is included in the “Five Solas:”

Sola Gratia (by grace alone); Sola Fide (by faith alone); Solus Christus (by Christ alone), which are self-evident. To these are added Sola Scriptura (by Scripture alone), which refers to the Scriptures as our only source of God’s doctrine; and Soli Deo Gloria (all glory is due to God alone).

In closing, I should like to make clear two realities:

1) only God knows the state of a person's soul. How many times must we be deceived before we come to realize that no man or woman has the ability to see into the heart of another?

2) The doctrinal position of the board is: salvation by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone.

And that is all that I have to say on this matter.

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