Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test
yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you —
unless, of course, you fail the test?
[1] (2 Corinthians 13:5).


Introduction

People throughout the world are able to view great athletic competitions. The most notable are the Olympic games. We’re amazed that the human body is capable of accomplishing the extraordinary feats those Olympic athletes do. We’ve learned there is a strict code of conduct associated with those games. Performance enhancing drugs are forbidden. Each sport has exacting rules by which it is run or played. Anyone who violates those rules is penalized or disqualified. 

The Apostle Paul said there is a parallel between the conduct of sports and living the Christian life: “If anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules” (2 Timothy 2:5). We will see in this article that true Christianity has many rules that must be followed or one will be disqualified from the race whose prize is eternal life. This kind of thinking is almost foreign to the present Christian culture, particularly in America, but it is not foreign to Scripture. It is the message of Scripture.

Speaking of America in particular, there seems to be great complacency on the part of those who call themselves Christians. Though they may appear little different from those in the world who claim no faith, nevertheless they are confident that they are part of those who will be saved and go to heaven. I suspect part of that is because of ignorance of what Scripture says are the requirements (the rules) of a saving faith.[2] 

In this article, we will discuss first the tests for salvation set forth by the Apostle John in his first epistle. Then we will examine the tests (I sometimes call them elements of a saving faith) set forth by Jesus and the other Apostles. These tests will rapidly help people determine if they are presently bound for heaven or on their way to hell. The purpose of this article is to help those who fail the tests to reexamine their “faith” and help them come to a true and saving faith, one that will cause them to pass these tests and have assurance of salvation based on truth.

Again, limiting my comments to America, it seems most churches presume most of those attending are going to heaven. They use inclusive language. There seems to be little or no teaching on the requirements (the rules) God has specified for those who will have eternal life. Jesus warned: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:13-14). Jesus was speaking to religious Jews as he said that, not to a crowd of unbelievers who had no knowledge of God.

There seems to be a feeling that God grades on the curve. The person attending church presumes he must be in better standing before God than the person who does not. As he looks around his community, he may believe he is living a better life than most. Therefore he believes he can have confidence he is going to heaven. But is that what Scripture says? Does God compare my life and your life with others who are wicked and say, “You are less wicked, and therefore you can go to heaven?” Not according to Scripture! We will see that Scripture is unequivocal in many of the tests (and elements of a saving faith) that we will examine. You either satisfy the condition or you do not. Those who do will be saved; those who do not will be condemned. I know that may sound very harsh, as it is a far cry from what seems to be preached in many pulpits, but that is what Scripture says. Let’s see if you agree after we test ourselves to see if we are in the faith.

There seems to be a need on the part of many to have assurance of salvation. I have never felt that need because I know that if my faith remains strong, I will be saved. Scripture says so. Others feel insecure, asking their pastors and teachers to assure them that they are saved and will be going to heaven when they die.

Some reasons for such insecurity may be that such people know they are not living as Jesus would have them live. Nevertheless, they sit under teaching and preaching that assures them they have assurance of their salvation. In my experience, such teachers and preachers often point to 1 John 5:13 which says, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” Then they may say to the person, “Do you believe in Jesus?” The answer is likely, “Yes, of course!” They respond, “Then be assured you have eternal life.”

Is that what this passage is saying? Or is that an extreme example of taking Scripture out of context? How do “these things” (that John is writing to them) relate to assurance of salvation? And what does it mean to believe in the name of the Son of God? As good Bereans, let’s see what Scripture says!

Salvation Tests from John’s First Epistle

Do you suppose in the Apostle John’s time people were also asking questions about how they could be assured they will be saved? Or was John very concerned that people thought they were saved but weren’t acting as if they were part of the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus? Either or both of those could be true. In any case, John’s first epistle addressed both those questions. 

John’s statement at 1 John 5:13 said, “I write these things to you . . .” What were “these things” he wrote to them? “These things” were various tests that he intended his readers to use to examine themselves to determine if they are in the family of God and have eternal life. These tests are equally applicable to each of us today. IF we pass those tests, we may know we have eternal life. If we do not pass the tests, we will know we do not have eternal life and that we are on the broad road to eternal punishment.

Let’s examine the tests proposed by the Apostle and see how we fare. As we go through these, we’ll relate John’s tests to teachings and commands of Jesus and other New Testament writers.

Test: Do You Obey Jesus’ Commands?

We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him (1 John 2:3-4).

John sets up a simple contrast. Those who obey Jesus’ commands have come to know him. Those who claim to know him but do not obey are liars. Jesus told us what happens to liars:

“But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur” (Revelation 21:8). Any questions? The fiery lake of burning sulphur is Scripture’s description of hell. Very clearly, without ambiguity, those who claim a relationship with the Lord Jesus but do not obey him are liars bound for hell.

In America we find tens of millions of people in the Bible belt who claim to know Jesus. But do they obey him? According to Barna’s research most cannot be distinguished from non-church-goers. How would each of them fare if they were to examine themselves according to this test? I fear many would fail.

Is this an aberration? Is this a lone teaching by the Apostle John not found elsewhere in Scripture? Just the contrary. This is the dominant theme of all Scripture – to obey God and his commandments. It is also consistent with the command Jesus gave just before he left this earth. He gave his church their marching orders: 

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).

Our duty is to make disciples. To do that we are to teach all new converts to obey everything Jesus commanded during his earthly ministry. Are we doing it? Do the professing Christians in our churches know what Jesus commanded? If they don’t, how can they obey? If they don’t obey, how can they be Jesus’ disciples? If they’re not disciples of Jesus, can they be saved?

Would a person go to hell for disobedience to the teachings and commands of Jesus? Paul wrote the Thessalonians, “He [the Lord Jesus] will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power”
(2 Thessalonians 1:8-9). There is no doubt that punishment and destruction is the fate of those who disobey the Lord Jesus. That is consistent with Hebrews 5:9, “he [Jesus] became the source of salvation for all who obey him.” Note the contrast – salvation for those who obey the Lord Jesus, but punishment and everlasting destruction for those who disobey him.

Jesus told a parable that illustrates the contrast between the obedient and disobedient servant:

“Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46 It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. 47 I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48 But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ 49 and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. 50 The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. 51 He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 24:45-51).

The obedient servant is given honor when his master returns. But the servant who disobeys – beating his fellow servants and eating and drinking with drunkards – will be severely punished, cut to pieces and assigned a place with hypocrites (hell). Did you notice that the punishment for the disobedient servant is greater than the punishment in all the other parables Jesus told where the person was judged and condemned? No other one states that he “will cut him to pieces.”

Some may raise the argument that we are no longer under the “Law” so therefore there is nothing we are to obey. The Law that Paul emphasizes we are no longer under – that we died to (Romans 7:4,6) and that was nailed to the cross (Colossians 2:14) – is the Old Testament Law.[3] Paul said that he is under Christ’s law, “To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law” (1 Corinthians 9:21. Also Galatians 6:2). Note that Paul equated God’s law with Christ’s law – one and the same for the New Testament believer. The Law of Christ is everything Jesus taught and commanded.

Test: Are You Walking in Darkness?

If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin (1 John 1:6-7).

John crammed a lot in these two sentences. He preceded these statements by “This is the message we have heard from him [Jesus] and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). Jesus revealed to his disciples that light is a quality – an attribute – of God. The Apostle tells us in verse 7 (above) that if we walk in the light, the blood of Jesus purifies us from all sin. That is the condition of a person who is being saved. 

The Lord Jesus and other New Testament writers speak of darkness as something evil. The implication of walking in darkness is to act wickedly, to do evil (verse 6), to be disobedient. If we do evil but claim fellowship with Jesus, John says we lie. What happens to liars? As we saw earlier, Jesus said they are bound for the lake of fire. 

To reiterate John’s warning: The person who does evil – who walks in darkness – has no fellowship with Jesus. The person who claims to have fellowship with Jesus, but does evil, is a liar.

John gives us the following example of walking in darkness: “But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him” (1 John 2:11). Who are the brothers of a Christian? They are other believers. Jesus defined “brother” this way, “Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother” (Mark 3:35).  John’s admonition then is against those who hate their fellow brother or sister in the church. If anyone hates another believer, he walks around in the darkness. If he claims to be a believer and claims fellowship with the Lord Jesus, he is a liar!

To make sure we get the point, the Apostle John contrasted those who are in the light from those who are in darkness:

Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him . . .. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him (1 John 2:9-11, 15).

Verse 15 (above) makes clear that being in darkness and walking around in the darkness means being without the Lord Jesus and without eternal life. We cannot claim to be in the light while we walk around in darkness and expect to have eternal life. Such a person does not qualify for eternal life.

Paul confirmed that true Christians are not in darkness: “But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness” (1 Thessalonians 5:4-5). 

You see how this relates to the former test of obedience. Those who disobey are evil – they walk around in darkness. Jesus commanded we love one another. Those who hate their brother are in direct disobedience to a command of the Lord Jesus. Such people are not saved. Because they do not do the will of God, they will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 7:21); because they do not obey, they do not have the Holy Spirit (John 14:15-16); because they do not have the Holy Spirit, they do not belong to the Lord Jesus (Romans 8:9).

Test: Do You Claim You Are Without Sin?

The Apostle John apparently knew of people who claimed they were without sin. He made clear such claims were false: If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us (1 John 1:8). If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives (1 John 1:10).

Is that a salvation issue? Yes, indeed. Jesus died on the cross to atone for sin. If a person has no sin, he has no need for someone to atone for his sin. As to such persons, Jesus would have died in vain. But there are no such persons. As Paul said, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Thus, any person who says he has not sinned is a liar. We know what happens to liars – their place is in the lake of fire (Revelation 21:8). 

There is a second way we know such persons are not saved. John said, “The truth is not in us,” referring to those people who claimed to be without sin. We must remember that truth is a person – the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus said of himself, “I am the way and the truth and the life (John 14:6). Thus anyone who does not have the truth in them does not have Jesus indwelling them. 

Finally, v. 10, above, says that if we claim we have not sinned, his word has no place in our lives. Scripture emphasizes the importance of Jesus’ words – that they are spirit and they are life, (John 6:63), they are the words of eternal life (John 6:68), and it is Jesus’ words that when put into practice are like the wise man building his house on the rock (Matthew 7:24-28), and it is Jesus’ words that will never pass away” (Matthew 24:35).  Jesus’ words are the good news of the Gospel. No one can have eternal life who does not have Jesus and his words in his life.

Test: Do You Continue To Sin?

The Apostle John made a strong statement to those who believe it is acceptable to continue in sin after committing to follow Jesus: 

No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him . . .. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God . . .. We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin (1 John 3:6, 9, 5:18).

Peter agreed: “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24). Paul said, “For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live” (Romans 8:13). It should be obvious that if we die to sins and put to death the misdeeds of the body we will not continue in them, exactly the test the Apostle John gave us.

How many times do people profess faith but then have no observable change in their lives? That is the very condition that both Barna and Gallup confirmed in their polls about most professing Christians – their personal lives display chaos and self-destructive behaviors: pornography, workaholism, infidelity, and lack of spiritual vitality. Do such people have eternal life? No! They do not pass the test – they continue in sin. We also know they fail the test of not doing the will of God, of not obeying Jesus and thus not receiving the Holy Spirit; all three are necessary for those who will have eternal life. 

To continue in sin is different than occasionally sinning. All of us can, and likely do, have occasions where we lose our temper, say something unkind, think an impure thought or fail to do that which we know we should do. That is sin! But for those occasional sins, John assures us, “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One” (1 John 2:1). 

We are not to misunderstand what John has just said. He said he is writing this to us so that we will not sin. But when we do sin, if we confess our sins, he [Jesus] is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). This refutes the false teaching that every time we sin we lose our salvation and have to be resaved. Not so! But we must immediately repent – confess our sin to the Lord and turn from the sin – and not continue in it. He will then forgive us and purify us from all unrighteousness. Then we will be blameless and free from accusation before our God (Colossians 1:22) and there will be no uncleanness that interrupts our fellowship with him. What if we do not repent and do not turn from the sin? Then either we have never known the Lord Jesus, or we are guilty of deliberately, willfully continuing in sin. In either case, we are not on the road to eternal life. We have abandoned that road, if we were once on it, and chosen the broad road that leads to destruction.

Test: Are You Righteous?

Now the Apostle looks at the opposite of sinning – righteousness – and we see the test for salvation presented differently:

If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him . . .. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. 8 He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning . . .. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother (1 John 2:29, 3:7-8, 10).

 “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20).

The Apostle John is echoing the warning of Jesus that we must be righteous, even more righteous than the legalistic Pharisees. 

We just learned we must not continue in sin. Another way of saying that is “doing what is sinful.” According to the Apostle John, if we do what is sinful, we are of the devil! Does anyone believe that those who are of the devil have eternal life? Then why is there not a great outcry from the church against sinning? Why is living a life of righteousness not proclaimed as the way each true believer will live and must live?

John sets up Jesus’ standard of conduct as the standard his disciples will follow. We are to be like Jesus. He is righteous; we are to be righteous. Paul said the same, “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers” (Romans 8:29). If we are conformed to the likeness of Jesus, we will be righteous as he is righteous. 

John spoke of true believers as being children of God. Paul confirmed that: “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” (Romans 8:16). ALL true believers are God’s children. There is no eternal life for those who are not God’s children. Those who do not do right (are not righteous) are not God’s children, but children of the devil (1 John 3:10). We all know where the children of the devil will spend eternity. 

This is clearly a salvation issue, notwithstanding that current heresies prevalent throughout Christendom say how we live is not important – it is only what we believe that counts. Jesus said we will not enter the kingdom of heaven unless our righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees. Their righteousness was external. Jesus expects our righteousness to also be internal – of the heart. Is it important to do right – to be righteous? Yes, indeed! Our eternal future hangs in the balance.

Test: Are You Walking As Jesus Did?

The Apostle John did us all a favor when he gave the next test, because it teaches us a most important lesson about how we are to live. John said,

Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did . . .. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.  In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him
(1 John 2:6, 4:16-17).

John gave us the reason we must study the Gospels with special diligence. The Gospels relate all we know about Jesus’ life here on earth. We are to live (walk) as Jesus did. Jesus said he had a new command for us:  “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35). Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13). Jesus modeled for us what he taught. How much did Jesus love us? He loved us so much he lay down his life for his friends. Who are Jesus’ friends? He told us: “You are my friends if you do what I command” (John 15:14).

Paul taught that God predestined that all true believers will be conformed to the likeness of Jesus that he might be the first of many brothers (Romans 8:29). Did you get the seriousness of Paul’s statement? God pre-determined (predestined) a requirement of all who will be saved. All such persons must be conformed to the likeness of Jesus if they would have eternal life. That is exactly what John said when he said we must walk as Jesus did.

John made another special contribution, doubtless because God foreknew this objection would be made by many that the scripture referring to being conformed to the likeness of Jesus (Romans 8:29) refers to when we get to heaven. They say when we get to heaven we will be conformed to the likeness of Jesus. They claim there is no requirement to be conformed to the likeness of Jesus in the here and now. But John specifically disabused us of that false claim. John stated that in this world we are like him (1 John 4:17). Where are we to be like Jesus, conformed to his likeness? Here – in this world! Paul also emphasized the need for purity and righteousness – being like Jesus – in the here and now. He told the Philippians, “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold outthe word of life (Philippians 2:14-16). Where are we to do this? In this crooked and depraved generation. When are we to be blameless and pure? Now, today, as we hold out the word of life to those who are not saved.

WWJD on pins, bracelets and key rings represents the question, “What would Jesus do?” This is an incredibly important question. Not only must we ask that question, but also we must be willing to make every effort to live our lives as Jesus would if we would have eternal life.  Paul commanded, “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:1-2). Purity results from doing what Jesus would do. John said, “We know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure” (1 John 3:2-3).

Those who do not walk as Jesus did – who are not conformed to his likeness – are not God’s children, and are not heirs of eternal life.

Test: Do You Love God, Your Brother and One Another?

Test: Do You Love God?

If there is anything Jesus emphasized, it is love. He said the first and greatest commandment is “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (Matthew 22:37). Could obedience to this command be a test for salvation? Yes, indeed. The Apostle John added the definition of what it means to love God: “This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world” (1 John 5:3-4). Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey my commands” (John 14:15).

We’ve come full circle again to obedience. Love for God is to obey his commands. Then we remember Jesus’ warning, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven (Matthew 7:21). As we will see later, “does the will” means to obey the teachings and commands of Jesus that are the will of God the Father. Salvation hinges on our love of God (expressed as obedience to God’s commands). 

Doesn’t it make perfect, logical sense that if we really love God we will obey his commands? Who could have thought otherwise? Yet the opposite is widely taught today. Many of those who teach the heresy of unconditional eternal security claim there is nothing we can do – either sin or disobedience – after we are “saved” that can affect our salvation. Hopefully you have seen in these tests many scriptures that prove the opposite conclusion.

Thomas Fuller wrote, “He does not believe, that does not live according to his belief.” We all know that to be true. People act according to what they really believe. Do we really love God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind if we make no effort to obey his commands? What does God say about people who willfully disobey him? The writer to the Hebrews told us: “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God” (Hebrews 10:26-27).

What does Scripture say the Lord Jesus will do when people ignore the rules, commands, and principles he set forth as he presented the Gospel during his ministry here on earth? Paul told us: “He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power” (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9).

In cases of deliberate sin and disobedience to the gospel of our Lord Jesus, the price to pay is judgment, raging fire, and everlasting destruction. Should we take sin and disobedience seriously? Indeed so.

Shouldn’t we be living to please God? His command is to love him with all our heart, with all our mind, with all our soul, and with all our strength. Is there anything left over? Doesn’t that require everything of us – our time, energy, honor, and obedience? Can anything be more important?

Test: Do You Love Your Brother?

Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother . . .. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death . . .. If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother (1 John 3:10, 14, 4:20-21).

Much of this command is inter-related with the tests and scriptures we’ve reviewed before. For example, once again John says that a man is a liar who claims to love God but hates his brother. 

We know this is a salvation issue for several reasons. First, because a liars’ fate is to be cast into the lake of fire for all eternity. Second, a person who does not love his brother is not a child of God. We’ve already seen that all true Christians are children of God. If a person is not a child of God he is a child of the devil and we know the fate of the devil and those who follow him. Finally, John says it is God’s command that all those who love him [God] must also love his brother. There we see the need to do the will of our Father in heaven. John says it is God’s command – his will – that we love our brother. Failure to do that is disobedience to the will of God and will deny entry into the kingdom of heaven. 

Test: Do You Love One Another?

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love . . .. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us . . .. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands (1 John 4: 7-8, 12, 5:2).

Isn’t it amazing how these tests continue to come full circle to obedience to the will of God, and to carrying out God’s commands? Even the test of knowing that we love the children of God is fulfilled by loving God and carrying out his commands.

What are specific commands of God concerning loving one another? One of the earliest commands, first recited in the Old Testament and reaffirmed by the Lord Jesus as the second most important command is, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39, first at Lev. 19:18).

Jesus gave us a new command, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35). While the other command dealt with loving our neighbor, this command concentrates on believers loving fellow believers. It is said that in the early days of Christianity, the love Christians had for each other drew others to the faith even when it meant almost certain persecution and sometimes death. So it should be today, as all people have the need and desire to be loved.

Once again let’s remember that Jesus said and did (and commanded) only what God his Father told him to do and say and that the commands Jesus gave us are the commands of God the Father. John said, “we know we love the children of God by loving God and carrying out his commands.” Isn’t it amazing how once again we come full circle to loving God and carrying out his commands?   

John also reiterated the opposite side: Whoever does not love does not know God (1 John 4:8). Such a person does not do the will of God. Is there salvation for those who do not know God and do not obey him? No, of course not! We must love one another, and do his will, just as the Lord Jesus commanded, if we are to have eternal life.

Test: Do You Love the World?

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever (1 John 1:15-17).

This is another test that comes back to the necessity for obedience if we are to have eternal life. Here John assures us that the man who does (obeys) the will of God lives forever.

James also warned us, but in even stronger terms: “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God” (James 4:4). James uses stronger words – hatred toward God and enemy of God – when describing what friendship with the world means. But he speaks only of friendship with the world, not “loving the world” as does John. Merely friendship with the world means dreadful things about our relationship with God. Doubtless this is because the entire world system is under the control of the evil one. It stands as an opposite of what the Kingdom of God stands for. Can we be friends with the world that hates God? Where is our loyalty? It MUST be totally with God and the Lord Jesus if we are to be saved. We must recognize that we are aliens here on earth. Peter, calling the Christians to pure lives, said: “Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul” (1 Peter 2:11). Likewise, the writer to the Hebrews spoke of the faithful of the past, “they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth (Hebrews 11:13). They were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them (Hebrews 11:16).

Jesus had much to say about those who live well and love the world. In the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, he said of the rich man, “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day (Luke 16:19). While the beggar Lazarus reclined in the bosom of Abraham when he died, the rich man went to hell. Jesus warned, “But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets (Luke 6:24-26). The lesson is that kingdom people – followers of the Lord Jesus – are not to have the same goals and desires as the secular people of this world. What an indictment of the church when the polls of Barna and Gallup show that many professing Christians cannot be distinguished from those who are not Christians.

Surely loving the world is one of the greatest dangers for believers in the developed world today. People in America, the great consumer nation, buy and buy, seemingly satisfying their every want. In talking with professing Christians in America, their conversations are often about their cars, their homes, their vacations, their hobbies and sports, and their planned or present retirement. When people speak of retirement, they rarely speak of it as an opportunity to serve God more, unencumbered by having to earn a living. Rather they speak of it as an opportunity to satisfy their every desire, to play golf, tennis, or other games, and to do what they want, when they want. We give ourselves away by what we speak. Jesus said, “Out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34, Luke 6:45). We find out what is in a person’s heart by what he says. That sounds like another good test, doesn’t it? Perhaps each of us should listen to our own speech. Do we speak about the teachings and commands of our Lord Jesus (see Deuteronomy 6:6-9) and the kingdom of our Lord, or do we speak about secular matters, about things, the fun we have had or hope to have, and the desires of our flesh?

If you answer this test in the affirmative by loving the world or being a friend of the world you are not in the kingdom of God. In fact, James says such a person hates God and is an enemy of God. Such a person is on the broad road leading to destruction and can expect only God’s wrath and judgment.

Test: Do You Believe Jesus Is the Christ, the Son of God?

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well . . .. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God (1 John 5:1, 3-5).

Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life (1 John 5:10-12).

Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist—he denies the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also (1 John 2:22-23).

The titles of Jesus are not happenstance. The title Christ means Anointed One or Messiah. This is the way Jesus was described in the Old Testament prophecies. He was the Anointed One who would save his people from their sins. Hundreds of prophecies testified to the coming Anointed One. Jesus fulfilled all those prophecies except those still to be fulfilled. According to the science of probabilities, the chance that any man could fulfill just eight prophecies[4] is 1 in 1017. That is 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000. The probabilities of fulfilling the hundreds that Jesus has fulfilled are beyond comprehension. God did not ask us to have a blind faith. He gave us ample reason to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. To believe in Jesus as the Christ is to believe in all the prophecies that declare him to be the Christ and in all his power and in all the attributes ascribed to him in the prophecies. Daniel told us about the coming Anointed One: “He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed” (Daniel 7:14). Jesus affirmed the fulfillment of that prophecy: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18).

The title Son of God is one used primarily by the Apostle John who sought to establish the deity of Jesus, that he existed as God, with God, and as the Word before he came to be born as a man here on earth (see John 1:1-2). Paul defined the term Son of God as Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 1:4). The equality of titles of the Son of God and the Lord Jesus Christ is important. Jesus as the Christ and Jesus as Lord are emphasized throughout Scripture. To believe that Jesus is the Son of God is to believe that Jesus Christ is Lord. 

In this test, the Apostle John selected the two most important capacities of Jesus – that he is the prophesied Christ – the Anointed One – and that he is the Son of God – Jesus Christ our Lord. He assures that those who believe on him as Christ are born of God and overcome the world.

The test works both ways. Those who do deny Jesus is the Christ are liars bound for the lake of fire. Those who deny Jesus is the Son of God do not have the Father and will not overcome the world. Once again we see that if Jesus is the Christ and if he is the Son of God – the Lord Jesus Christ – he is owed obedience and submission, honor and glory. Those who do not obey him will not be saved. Jesus warned: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). 

Test: Have You Retained the True Gospel?

See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is what he promised us—even eternal life(1 John 2:24-25).

We are forgetful, aren’t we? What seems so important to us one minute a week later often seems to have faded away beyond recollection. With all the competing interests in our work, our play, our homes, families, and friends, it is easy to lose the power and urgency of the Gospel.

Likely all of us have experienced times that we are not nearly as close to the Lord as we had been. When that happens, who is it that moved? It wasn’t God. He remains faithful. James urges us, “Come near to God and he will come near to you” (James 4:8). Who did James say should act first? We are to come near to God. Then God will come near to us. We are to keep the Word of God in us so that it remains in us. If it does, we are promised eternal life – we will also remain in the Son and in the Father.

What we should have heard from the beginning, as we learned about the Christian life, are the teachings and commands of Jesus – the words of Jesus. They are the foundation for the Gospel and are the true Gospel. 

We have already learned that Jesus’ words are the words of God (John 3:34), that his words give life, that they are spirit and they are life (John 6:63), that they are the words of eternal life (John 6:68), and that his words will never pass away (Matthew 24:35). Is it any wonder then that we must retain the words of Jesus? If God’s word does not remain within us, is it any wonder that we will not remain in the Son and in the Father? Is this a salvation issue? Jesus warned, “If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned” (John 15:6). Can any reasonable person believe that a person who is thrown away and withers, who is picked up, thrown into the fire and burned has salvation?

Salvation Tests from Jesus and Other New Testament Writers

Test: Are You Holy?

Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14).

What does it mean to be holy? Is that another word right righteous? No, it is not. Holy and sanctify come from the same root word. They both mean to be separate and apart – set apart for a holy purpose. 

You can see immediately the relationship to the commands to not be part of the world, not to love it or be a friend of it. The world is contrary to – and opposed to – God and his will for his people. You can also see why James said to be a friend of the world is to be an enemy of God.

Note in the test above that we are told to make every effort to be holy. Isn’t it strange, then, that there are many teaching that we are not to make any effort in our Christian life, as that implies that we have something to do with our own salvation. We have lots to do with our own salvation. God, in his grace, provided the means for us to be saved through the willing sacrifice of our Lord Jesus on the cross. Thus God put in place the means by which we can be reconciled to him, the means by which we can be forgiven of our sins, and the means by which we can have our sins atoned for, through which we can be redeemed.

Every day we are faced with the choice of obedience or disobedience. Will our peers influence us, will we seek to be friends of the world, or will we seek to live in faithful obedience to the teachings and commands of our Lord Jesus? 

Perhaps the best concept to express how we are to live is to think of ourselves as aliens here on this earth. We are all familiar with aliens as those who do not have citizenship in the country in which they are present. Such people are present physically in the country, but they are not of the country, and are without the rights and privileges that its citizens have. In the same way, we must think of ourselves as aliens and strangers in this world. Peter wrote,

To God’s elect, strangers in the world . . . live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear . . . I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul (1 Peter 1:1, 17, 2:11).

Peter shows that citizens of the kingdom of our Lord Jesus are to abstain from sinful desires. Paul phrased it this way, “God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life” (1 Thessalonians 4:7). Purity, then, is a characteristic of true believers who are strangers and aliens in this world.

If we are aliens and strangers here, where is our citizenship? Paul didn’t hesitate: “Our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20). Peter said, “we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness” (2 Peter 3:13). 

God anticipated further arguments to holiness and righteousness when he directed the Apostle John to write, “This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world” (1 John 5:3-4). God gave us a clear definition of love for him – extremely different from the world’s definition and, sadly, very different from the explanation of love for God found in many Christian churches. Then God put to the lie the objection of many that we can never obey and can never be righteous by saying, “His commands are not burdensome.” He further corroborates that in the next phrase as he assures us that “everyone born of God overcomes the world.” 

Test: Are You Wicked?

God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,”and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness” (2 Timothy 2:19).

Is it possible to be saved and to be wicked? The foregoing scripture seems to say that is not possible. God used Paul to warn about behavior that was simply not acceptable and will forfeit an inheritance in the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus. Consider the language he used:

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:19-21).

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator (Colossians 3:5-10).

Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. 4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. 7 Therefore do not be partners with them (Ephesians 6:3-7).

Wicked behavior is equated with disobedience. Those who are true believers are obedient to the teachings and commands of Jesus that teach us how to be blameless and free from accusation before God. 

Finally, once again we examine Jesus’ warning against wickedness:

The cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death” (Revelation 21:8).

Note how severe the language – those who conduct themselves this way have no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God – because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient – their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulphur (a description of hell). Can there be any rational argument that this does not refer to loss of salvation for those who conduct themselves in these forbidden ways? 

Considering all the warnings from Scripture shown above, isn’t it almost unbelievable that many proponents of unconditional eternal security claim that once a person has made a bona fide confession of faith that nothing he can do thereafter can cause him to be unsaved. Calvinists agree, but for a different reason, claiming that a person who has been predestined to salvation will be saved, whether he wants to be or not. If he has been predestined for salvation, obviously nothing he does or can do will affect whether or not he will be saved. As I hope you clearly see, both of these teachings are false, both leading people astray who follow their teachings. Jesus said, “If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit” (Matthew 15:14). I fear untold millions are following the broad road to destruction because blind men with false doctrines are leading them.

Test: Are You Bearing Fruit?

 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunesso that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.  Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:1-5).   

What immediately springs to your mind when you read “cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit.” It sounds very much like rejection by God, doesn’t it? And that is what it is. This illustration is particularly powerful because Jesus makes clear he is speaking of a branch that is “in me.” Thus, he is speaking of Christians, those who are his followers and disciples. He then sets up two alternatives for those who are in him. Those that produce fruit God prunes so they will be even more fruitful. But those who do not bear fruit will be cut off from Jesus. Jesus makes clear that we can do nothing without him. We will bear much fruit if we remain in him and he in us. 

Jesus also told the following parable: 

“A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. 7 So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’ 8 ”‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. 9If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down’” (Luke 13:6-9).

Again this is a powerful parable. It shows a fig tree planted in God’s vineyard. It tells us that this is someone who at this time is part of the kingdom, having professed faith in the Lord Jesus. But the person fails to produce fruit year after year. Finally, according to the parable, God orders the tree to be cut down saying, “Why should it use up the soil?” Jesus intercedes, however, seeking more time, saying he’ll dig around it and fertilize it. He suggests another year to see if it bears fruit. But note! Jesus agrees that if it doesn’t produce fruit in the next year it should be cut down. 

People take time (soil). If they don’t produce fruit but take up the time of preachers and teachers, they are weakening the body because they are sapping the energies of those who should be helping others. God doesn’t want that. He wants followers of his Son who are healthy, vibrant, fruit-bearing disciples who will help to extend the kingdom of the Lord Jesus. 

What kind of fruit are we to bear? One kind may be the involuntary fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Another kind of fruit may be works. Though no one will gain salvation through works, as we have repeatedly stated, works are the evidence of a saving faith. Paul told us, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10). Another example of good works could be inferred from James: Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress (James 1:27).

Jesus told a powerful parable that describes other works and includes other insights as well. You may know it by the title of “The Sheep and the Goats.” This parable is so important we’ll include it in full here:

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’40 “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45 “He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (Matthew 25:31-46). 

The parable starts by stating Jesus is sitting on his throne in judgment separating the people of all nations into two groups, some on his right, the others on his left. Then he told those on his right about what they had done, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me” (Matthew 25:35-36). Those on his right asked when they had done that for him, as if objecting to the praise he was giving them. His response: “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” To them Jesus said, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.”

But Jesus condemned those on his left, saying to them, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” All those things he had praised those on his right for having done, Jesus said this group had not done. For failing to do these things, he condemned them to the eternal fire (hell). 

Did you notice a remarkable thing about this parable? There is no mention of believing or of having faith. None! It is ONLY about works – whether they did the works and were granted eternal life, or whether they did not and were condemned to the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 

Have we suddenly found that salvation is really by works? No, not at all. This parable is a powerful illustration of the fact that a true, saving faith can be seen and must be seen. Jesus said, “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). There is evidence (through works) of the existence of a saving faith. James said, “Faith without deeds is dead” (James 2:26). Jesus condemned those in the parable who didn’t help because they had a dead faith. Yes, they likely believed in Jesus, even that he died on the cross for their sins, was resurrected, ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God. Did that help them? Not an iota. The group on the right lived out their faith; they were obedient to the teachings and commands of Jesus to love one another as he loved them. Their obedience was shown by feeding their brothers who were hungry, clothing those needing clothes, giving drink to the thirsty, inviting in the stranger, and visiting those in prison. 

In another passage dealing with the great white throne judgment at the end of the age, the judgment is described this way: The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done (Revelation 20:12-13). Did the Scripture say they were judged according to what they believed? Did it say they were judged according to their faith or their doctrine? The passage is silent as to believing and faith. It speaks only of what they had done.

We act according to our beliefs. If we truly believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the King of kings and the Lord of lords, and that he is our Lord, we will bow the knee before him, humble ourselves as little children, obey his teachings and commands, and seek to please him in all that we do and say. Do we truly believe?

Do our actions prove our faith? Or do they prove our lack of faith? Will we be the sheep commended by Jesus to eternal life or the goats condemned by Jesus to eternal punishment?

Test: Have You Remained In Jesus?

“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned”
(John 15:4-6).

We saw in the earlier section on bearing fruit that branches, though they be in Jesus, that do not produce fruit are cut off. Now we examine the point Jesus made about those branches that were cut off. Obviously a branch that is cut off does not remain in Jesus. Jesus listed five things that happen to those branches: They are thrown away, they wither, they are picked up, they are thrown into the fire, and they are burned. Each step is worse than the first until it is final – they are thrown into the fire and burned.

Does that sound familiar? Remember Jesus’ warning about the wicked? Their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur (Revelation 21:8). It sounds very similar to the branches that don’t bear fruit. They will also be thrown into the fire and burned.

The opposite is true, of course, for those who remain in Jesus. By remaining in Jesus and Jesus in him, a person will bear much fruit. We know that God will prune us so we are able to bear even more fruit. I have observed the truth of that over and over in Christendom. A man will begin with a small Bible study. As he perseveres (remains in Jesus) the study grows. The Lord gives him more responsibility and even more attend. Often then a church begins, sometimes growing into a very substantial body of believers. 

The Apostle John wrote, “See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father” (1 John 2:24). John implies that what we heard has power to keep us in the faith if we keep it at the forefront of our minds – if it remains in us. It shows again the need to remain constantly in the Word of God so that we are constantly refreshed and reminded of those things it is necessary for us to remember to remain strong in the faith.

Test: Are You Persevering?

The prior section on remaining in Jesus is a test for persevering. But Jesus made the point even more directly, as he spoke of the end times, when he said,

“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other,and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.  Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:9-13). 

All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved (Matthew 10:22, and Mark 13:13).

This prophecy seems to be fulfilled in our own time. In the Sudan over 500,000 Christians have been systematically killed over the last several years. In Muslim nations Christians are being persecuted to the death. We have already mentioned major false doctrines appearing and deceiving many. There is an increase of wickedness within the church to the point that most of those who are professing Christians cannot be distinguished from unbelievers. So many are turning from the faith that America (and many other formerly Christian nations) are now considered to be in a post-Christian era.

It is with that background that Jesus says, “He who stands firm to the end will be saved.” In spite of the persecution, in spite of false doctrines, wickedness, being betrayed even by loved ones, we are to stand firm and persevere to the end. (See also 1 Corinthians 16:13, 2 Corinthians 1:21, 24, Galatians 5:1, Ephesians 6:14, Philippians 4:1, Colossians 4:12, 2 Thessalonians 2:15, and James 5:8).

In another frightening prophetic vision of the end-times, the Apostle John recites a time when the anti-Christ will force the inhabitants of the earth to take the mark of the beast (Revelation 13:16-17). Those who take the mark are forever condemned, however. John is told, “This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus” (Revelation 12:14). There are three noteworthy items in this one verse as it speaks about those suffering in the end times. First, they are called saints. Second, they are ones who obey God’s commandments. Third, they remain faithful to Jesus. Note how consistent the latter two are with the tests we have examined. Over and over we have seen it is those who obey God’s commandments who will be saved. We see in this section that it is those who remain faithful and obedient as they persevere in their faith in Jesus who will be saved.

Paul warned Timothy, “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Timothy 4:16). The writer to the Hebrews said, “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised (Hebrews 10:36). John wrote, “And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming” (1 John 2:28).

It is interesting that Paul warned Timothy about two things. First is his life – how he lived, that it would be righteous, holy, and pleasing to the Lord. But the second warning had to do with doctrine. False doctrine can cause the race to be lost. To use an illustration from sports, would you try to play baseball with the rules of football? Obviously it would never work. Neither does it work to seek to be a disciple of the Lord Jesus but attempt to use a set of rules that are non-biblical. God has set forth the plan of salvation, the requirements he expects to be fulfilled in all who will be saved. You are reading those requirements in this article. Do you think you can substitute your rules and somehow claim that you should win the prize of heaven at the end of your life if you’ve chosen not to play by God’s rules? It will never happen! 

I recall Doris, a lady who believed in the doctrine of unconditional eternal security. When I expressed my understanding that there was no such doctrine expressed in Scripture, she retorted, “Without the doctrine of eternal security, I couldn’t even be a Christian!” This lady was not relying on the Lord Jesus Christ for her salvation. She had come to the point where she relied on a false doctrine. 

Consider the Calvinists who almost universally accept Calvin’s doctrine of predestination. On what is their salvation based? Notwithstanding some of their arguments, it is based on whether they are one of the elect, predestined before the foundation of the world to be saved. It almost seems irrelevant that Jesus came to earth to die once for all so that we might have forgiveness of sins and be reconciled to God. The Calvinists believe their salvation was already determined long before Christ’s coming by God’s eternal decree predestining them to be saved (if they are one of the chosen and elect). This false doctrine may well cause the person who accepts it to play by the wrong rules. Instead of trusting in one’s salvation by “believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved” (Acts 16:31), such a person may believe they are saved because they were baptized when a baby by an authorized church representative, or that their behavior is moral and good thereby giving evidence that they are one of the elect. Can they be saved by such doctrines? Not based on Scripture! God’s way, as revealed in Scripture, is the only way.

Test: Do You Believe Jesus Is Lord?

 “I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins” (John 8:24). 

Who did Jesus claim to be? “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am” (John 13:13).

The overwhelming emphasis of the New Testament Scriptures is that Jesus Christ is Lord. Paul said “God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11). It was God’s purpose that Jesus – the Anointed One (Christ) who fulfilled all prophecy – should be exalted as Lord (Acts 2:36). Consider then Jesus’ purpose as expressed by Paul: “For this very reason Jesus died and returned to life, that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living” (Romans 14:9). 

One would think that if a person calls Jesus “Lord” he would be acknowledging him as his own Lord and would seek to obey him. Sadly, that is often not so, and was not true even in Jesus’ days on earth. Even then Jesus asked, “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46). One of the clever ways that Satan deceives is to deprive people of a proper, saving understanding of words. “Faith” has been denuded to mental assent. “Lord” has been made just another name for Jesus, without special meaning. Thus it is that so much of America calls Jesus “Lord” and itself Christian but makes no effort (Philippians 2:12) to live with Jesus as Lord. According to Scripture, those who live like that have missed the narrow road that leads to life and are on the broad road that leads to destruction.

If we truly believe that Jesus has all power and authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18), what is our natural response? It is that we bow our knee in submission to him as Lord of all, and confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord. That is one of the ways Paul declared one would be saved, “if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). Likewise, Paul told the Philippian jailer, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household” (Acts 16:31). 

The overwhelming emphasis of the New Testament is the Lordship of Jesus. Paul wrote the Colossians, “just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him” (Colossians 2:6). Peter told believers how they were to regard Jesus: “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord” (1 Peter 3:15).  Paul revealed what the early church preached: “For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Corinthians 4:5).

624 times Jesus is referred to as Lord in the New Testament, by far more than any other title. It should be very clear that inspired Scripture seeks to reveal to us the Son of God as Lord of all. Scripture makes clear that all true believers are to be bondservants of the Lord Jesus, to obey him, and to submit to him in all things as Lord.

Can we bifurcate Jesus? Can we take just a part of him? How is it possible that many continue to urge people to be saved by accepting Jesus as their personal Savior? First, that is unbiblical. There is no place in all Scripture that says or suggests that if we believe in Jesus as our Savior we will gain salvation. Jesus is only spoken of as Savior 15 times. Nine times God the Father is called Savior. God did not authorize salvation for anyone who only claims to accept, receive, or believe in Jesus as Savior.

What does it mean to believe on his name? In ancient times, a person’s name summed up his whole being. In Jesus’ case, to believe on his name would be to believe in him as the Son of God, as the Christ, as Lord, as Savior, as King, as the Word of God, as High Priest, and any and all other titles Jesus has that describe him. Scripture says, “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God . . . many people saw the miraculous signs he was doing and believed in his name . . . But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 1:12, 2:23, 20:31). Clearly these are salvation passages. The person who believes in his name he gave the right to become children of God and to have life in his name. The attribute God has emphasized most about Jesus is that he is Lord – King of kings and Lord of lords.

Test: Are You Born Again?

 “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again’” (John 3:5-7).

Jesus told us how the new birth takes place: “If you love me, you will obey what I command. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth” (John 14:15-17). Before Jesus will ask the Father to give us the Holy Spirit, there are two things that must happen. First we must love Jesus. Then, from that love and to express that love, we must obey what Jesus commands.

Jesus confirmed the relationship of obedience to his commands and the indwelling of God and himself (through the Holy Spirit) by saying, “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him” (John 14:21). Here, in the first sentence, Jesus shows that those who have his commands and obey him are the ones who love him. It is not the person who says, “I love Jesus,” who loves him, but the person who has his commands and obeys him. Let’s not glide over the first part, “has his commands.” All new believers are to have his commands because Jesus commanded his disciples to teach all new disciples to obey all that he had commanded them (Matthew 28:20). But do they? Has your church or fellowship or home group taken pains to teach you the commands of Jesus and the need to obey them? What happens to the person who has Jesus’ commands and obeys them? That person will be loved by God the Father and by the Lord Jesus and Jesus will show himself to them. What a glorious picture that is! How many experience that, I wonder?

Apparently God the Father was not satisfied that we have yet understood the importance of what Jesus just said, so he had Jesus make the point again: “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me” (John 14:23-24). This time Jesus added his teaching as something that those who love him will obey. He assures us again that for those who obey his teaching, God the Father will love them. This time he says he and the Father will come to them and make their home with them. Jesus and the Father do that through the indwelling Holy Spirit. Jesus also adds the opposite this time, adding a chill to the air as he asserts that those who do not obey him do not love him. What about those millions upon millions of professing Christians who not only don’t obey but don’t know what to obey? They’ve never been taught! Are they without excuse? No, Bibles are available everywhere in the western world. False doctrines have emasculated Christianity and removed the need to obey. Lest anyone question what he has just said, Jesus finished by saying that the words they hear, as he just told them, belong to the Father who sent him. 

Is there further corroboration for the relationship of receiving the Holy Spirit and obedience to Jesus? Yes, of course. Peter, in addressing the Sanhedrin in defense of the actions of the Apostles, said, “ . . . the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him” (Acts 5:32). The Apostle John affirmed that: “Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us” (1 John 3:24).

Is this a salvation issue? Indeed it is. Jesus told Nicodemus, “no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit . . . ‘You must be born again’” (John 3:5,7). Paul corroborated that, expressing it somewhat differently as he warned: “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ” (Romans 8:9). Surely no thinking persons would claim they can have eternal life if they do not belong to the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul reminded us that Jesus is the Sovereign Lord who bought us – those who are his disciples (2 Peter 2:1, see also 1 Corinthians 6:20, 7:23). Slaves are bought. All true believers are bond slaves of the Lord Jesus. Those who are not his bond slaves were not bought by him and do not have salvation.

I recently read a description of American Christians that reminded me of myself when I had a false conversion before really coming to know the Lord. Does this sound familiar to you?

All the best research by Barna and Gallup tells us that those in America who claim to know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior are not changing very much at all. Their character seems untouched by their conversion, their marriages continue to deteriorate, their families fail, their personal lives display chaos and self-destructive behaviors: pornography, workaholism, infidelity, lack of spiritual vitality.[5]

I was about forty-four when I came downstairs one morning and believed the Bible to be true. The night before I hadn’t. Somehow, the change occurred during the night. That morning I believed Jesus had died on the cross for my sins. I believed I was a new Christian. Those in the church rejoiced that I had finally seen the light and become a believer. But the paragraph above describes me quite well. I had little real change in my life. Yes, I stopped swearing and changed friends from Newport Beach party friends to new friends in the church. But our marriage continued to deteriorate. My personal life likely displayed chaos and self-destructive behavior, though I wasn’t aware of it. I was a workaholic; I lacked spiritual vitality. Fortunately, I was not into pornography or infidelity; God spared me that!

What didn’t I have? I didn’t have any idea what a true, saving faith was. I was taught that I was to accept and believe in Jesus as my personal Savior. Little did I know that wasn’t even biblical.

Fortunately, the Lord drew me back into his word. This time it seemed that everywhere I read in Scripture it talked about Jesus as Lord and the need to obey him. I had never heard a sermon about the Lordship of Jesus or the need to obey him. Finally I got before the Lord and said, “Lord Jesus, you have educated me well. As far as I can tell from your word, you must be my Lord and I am to obey you. Lord Jesus, please be my Lord. I will obey you the best I can the rest of my life.”

In the subsequent days many things were noticeably different. I felt joy, peace, and love such as I had never known. Our marriage improved markedly. My work seemed easier and less stressful. I didn’t even know that what I was experiencing was the fruit of the Holy Spirit until I read Galatians 5:22-23: the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Those were now in my life. People indwelled by the Holy Spirit are different. Paul affirmed that: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Consider the behavior of the people described by Barna and Gallup. Could anyone claim that description is of people who are obedient to the Lord Jesus and to his teachings and commands? Of course not! One would better describe their actions as blatant disobedience.

According to the Scriptures we have examined, if these people are disobedient to the Lord Jesus’ teachings and commands, could they have the indwelling Holy Spirit? No! Peter said the Holy Spirit is given to those who obey Jesus (Acts 5:32). If they do not have the Holy Spirit, they do not belong to Jesus (Romans 8:9). Those who do not belong to Jesus are not on the narrow path to eternal life. They are on the broad road that leads to eternal destruction.

Test: Do You Repent?

“But unless you repent, you too will all perish” (Luke 13:3, 5).

The New Testament begins with a call to repentance by both Jesus and John the Baptist. In each case, it was their first recorded command. Both said, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near” (Matthew 3:2, 4:17). When the Holy Spirit came upon the assembled group in Jerusalem for the first time, Peter preached, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:38). When Paul was taken to a meeting of the Areopagus in Athens, he spoke of repentance, saying, “In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30).

There is a problem these days with the command to repent because the prominent heresy of unconditional eternal security (once saved, always saved) claims that once you have made a profession of faith all your sins are forgiven, both retrospectively and prospectively. Thus, they claim that all future sins are forgiven at the time one becomes a believer. That is a delightful, ear-tickling, self-serving concept, but not biblical and totally false. Peter told us that we have been cleansed from our past sins (2 Peter 1:9). Let’s look at just three examples from Scripture to show that this is completely wrong.

Simon himself believed and was baptized (Acts 8:13). Later he sought to be given the gift of imparting the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands. Peter castigated him for having such a thought and said, “Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord” (Acts 8:22). We start this by noting that Simon believed and was baptized. Without doubt he had prayed for repentance of his sins when he believed and when he was baptized. If he had been forgiven of all prospective sins, including offering money to Peter for a spiritual gift, why would Peter command that he repent? He wouldn’t, of course. But he would command him to do that if we are forgiven only of our past sins (exactly what Peter said in his epistle), and if we are to repent each time we sin so that once again we may be without spot or blemish in the sight of the Lord.

Likewise, the Apostle John said, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Doubtless John is saying that the person should repent of sins and that Jesus is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. But whether he is using the exact parallel or not, the result is the same. Why would John claim we should confess (or repent from) our sins IF all our sins had already been forgiven prospectively? He wouldn’t, of course. Neither would we have to be purified from all unrighteousness if we were already forgiven of all sins we would forever commit.

In the letters to the seven churches (the second and third chapters of Revelation), Jesus told the church in Ephesus, “Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place” (Revelation 2:5). Beginning in verse 12, Jesus speaks to the church of Pergamum. First he commends them for remaining faithful during times of persecution. Then he tells them of several things in which they are in error – sinning. He commands them to repent, saying, “Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth” (Revelation 2:16). At verse 18, Jesus begins a letter to the church at Thyatira. He commends them as well, but then tells them of a woman they tolerate in their midst called Jezebel. He says, “By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling.  So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways” (Revelation 2:20-22). Chapter 3 begins with the latter to the church of Sardis that the Lord says is dead. He rebukes them, “Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you” (Revelation 3:4). To the church of Laodicea Jesus says he is about to spit them out of his mouth because they are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold. Then he says, “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent (Revelation 3:19). 

First note that Jesus is writing to churches. Surely churches (in a corporate fashion, perhaps) would know of repentance and would have repented when they came to faith. But Jesus doesn’t say that you once repented so you’re all right. No, he commands them to repent and threatens them with expulsion from the kingdom – remove your lampstand or spew them out of his mouth or fight against them with the sword of his mouth or some other specific calamity – if they do not repent. These churches had not been forgiven prospectively of error and sin. No, Jesus expected them to repent when they learned they had done something that was wrong in Jesus’ eyes.

It should be very clear from these examples that repentance and forgiveness of sins are not prospective, but are only for those sins already committed. Consider the spiritual carnage that will ensue from the millions upon millions of people committed to the doctrine of unconditional eternal security who do not repent of their sins because they have been taught they are already forgiven. Such people are impure, unholy, and unrighteous in God’s eyes. Will they be able to enter heaven? No! Scripture says nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life (Revelation 21:27). Apply Jesus’ teaching with which we began this section to the tens of millions following the false doctrine of unconditional eternal security. Unless they repent, they too will all perish” (Luke 13:3, 5). 

Test: Are You Willing to Receive the Kingdom of God as a Little Child?

 “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it” (Mark 10:15).

“I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3-4). 

What characteristics does a little child have that would be applicable to Jesus’ teaching? We see the key in verse 4. It is the humility of a little child that is required for those who will enter the kingdom of heaven. The setting for the verses above is that the disciples wanted to know who would be greatest – a question arising out of pride. James understood when he said, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6, from Proverbs 3:34). It is humility that is required of those who will be saved.

Why humility? If we know God who knows all things, and the Lord Jesus Christ who has all power and authority in heaven and on earth, how can we possibly be proud? What can we know or do that can compare with what our God knows and can do? Jesus reminded us, “apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). In the realm of our Lord and King, the Lord Jesus, we must be utterly dependent on him. Could I write these articles by myself? Where would I get my knowledge, understanding, and insight? It must come from God. It would be useless for me to think I can sit down and just “come up” with something like this. It must come from the Holy Spirit; that is my prayer as I write. 

I think about baptism – a command of Jesus that some refuse to obey. Are they afraid (or embarrassed) to enter a tank of water and be submerged, and come out soaking wet? Is their refusal because of pride – the opposite of the humble obedience of a little child? Jesus commanded us to baptize new disciples in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Baptism itself is not essential to salvation, though it is identification with the Lord Jesus in his death, burial, and resurrection. But it can be a salvation issue if one refuses to be obedient to baptism because of personal pride. It is sin to refuse to do something you know you should do.

Pride demonstrates we do not know God, and that we have little comprehension of his greatness and power. Thus it is that Jesus can say that unless we are humble as a little child – without pride – we will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

We know a little child has a simple trust in those adults around him/her. Doubtless, Jesus also requires each of us to have a simple child-like trust and faith in him. A little child will also obey easily and quickly. When asked to do something they will do it and not be embarrassed about it. 

The thief on the cross could not get down from the cross to be baptized proving that baptism is not essential to salvation. But after Philip explained the Gospel to the Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, the eunuch asked, “Look, here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptized?” (Acts 8:36). The Ethiopian eunuch obediently and humbly responded to the Gospel. So must we if we would have eternal life.

Test: Do You Forgive Your Brother From Your Heart?

“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:14-150.

Just how important is it that our sins be forgiven? Isn’t it utterly essential? Isn’t that why Jesus came to earth to die as a sacrifice to God once for all for the forgiveness of sins? If it is possible to be saved without the forgiveness of our sins, Jesus died without reason. Paul wrote, “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he [God] has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation . . .” (Colossians 1:21-22). Yes, we were reconciled to God by Christ’s physical body through death. We could not have become holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation without his atoning sacrifice so that our sins could be forgiven.

I say all that to show the utter importance that we be forgiven by God. Yet our forgiveness by God is dependent upon our forgiveness of others. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus taught us to pray, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12). That is a conditional prayer. We are asking God to forgive us in the same way and to the same extent as we have forgiven others – “as we also have forgiven our debtors.” 

If we understand the importance of forgiveness, we will immediately forgive anyone who has hurt, offended or done us wrong. Would we place our own salvation in jeopardy over not forgiving someone else?

Lest you think this is the only instance in which Jesus said something like this, he also taught a frightening parable. Jesus began the parable by saying “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants” (Matthew 18:23). The story is of a king who graciously forgives a debt worth millions of dollars because the servant begged him for mercy. But that same servant unmercifully threw a fellow servant in prison because he owed him a few dollars he was unable to repay. After hearing of the injustice, the king called in the unmerciful servant. What did he say to him? “You wicked servant,” he said, “I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?” (Matthew 18:32-33). What did the king then do to that unmerciful servant? Jesus said, “In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed” (Matthew 18:34). Now for the frightening part. Jesus said to us, “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart” (Matthew 18:35). 

James understood that the issue of forgiveness is about mercy: Judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment! (James 2:13). God had such mercy for us (his grace was shown in his mercy) that he came to earth to become man so he could die for us and be an acceptable sacrifice to God as the perfect lamb, so our sins can be forgiven. Considering God’s great mercy to us, God expects us to likewise be merciful to those who offend, hurt, or do anything else offensive to us. When we extend mercy to others, we are being Christ-like, conformed to his likeness (Romans 8:29). 

I think of two opposite situations. One was a professing Christian family in southern California whose daughter was murdered by a California Highway Patrolman. They said publicly, “We will never forgive him!” I shuddered as I thought of the eternal implications of their statement and wondered if they had any understanding of that. The other situation also involved murder – I think it was of the son of a Christian family. That family went to the prison and told the murderer of their son that they forgave him. They continued to visit him in prison and continued to witness to him of the saving power of the Lord. The murderer did come to a saving faith and after he was released went to live with that family. That family witnessed to the whole world about what it means to be a Christian – to forgive no matter what the offense, and then to love the one they forgave as Jesus loves us whom he also forgave.

The wicked servant could not repay the debt even when he was not in prison. Certainly he could never do so while being tortured in prison. Yet his punishment will happen to each of us – we will be tortured in hell until we atone for our own sin, which we can never do – unless we forgive our brother from our heart. 

Test: Do You Love Jesus More?

 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26).

It was common in Jesus’ time to use extreme examples to make a point. We know from all of Jesus’ teachings that we are to love one another. Yet his point is that we are to love him so much more than all others, including those closest to us, that our love for them is hate by comparison to our love for Jesus. Jesus said we are to love him far more than our own life.

What if we don’t? What if we love our children, our spouse, parents, and friends more than Jesus? We have forfeited our opportunity to be saved. ALL those who will be saved will be disciples of Jesus. In his great commission, Jesus did not tell us to go make converts. No, he told us to make disciples of all nations. In order to avoid the necessary implications of these teachings, some claim that we can be saved without being a disciple, and that being a disciple is for those who desire a deeper walk with God. That is utterly false! There is no warrant anywhere in Scripture for such a claim.

This teaching of Jesus follows perfectly what Jesus said was the first and greatest commandment,

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment” (Matthew 22:37-38).

How much are we to love the Lord our God? With all we have. 

This must be a constant test for us. Are we living as if we love the world – which is hatred toward God (James 4:4) – or are we living as if we love the Lord our God with all we have? May we daily continue to pass this test!

Test: Have You Taken Up Your Cross and Followed Jesus?

“Anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27).

As he was led out of Jerusalem to be crucified, Jesus had to carry his own cross. The Lord Jesus requires his disciples to carry their crosses as his disciples are called to die to self and to sin. Paul said, “If you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live” (Romans 8:13). Peter taught, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24). Paul said, “We died to sin” and “if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him” (Romans 6:2, 8).

Paul showed us that when a person dies, he is released from the law, just as a married person is released from the law of marriage when the spouse dies. Christians are released from the Old Testament Law as they die to sin. “But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code” (Romans 7:6). “You also died to the law through the body of Christ” (Romans 7:4). “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God” (Galatians 2:19). 

By taking up our cross and following Jesus, we are following him to a place of death where we die to sin and live for righteousness. As we die to sin, we are released from the Old Testament Law. As followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, we are now subject to Christ’s Law (1 Corinthians 9:21, see also Matthew 28:20). Because we have died to sin, we know we will live with Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:2,8).

Test: Have You Given Up Everything You Have for Jesus?

“Any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33).

This statement by Jesus followed two important teachings. In the first, he said, ““Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish’” (Luke 14:28-30). The key to understanding this teaching is the second sentence, “Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?”

Jesus is talking about the cost of being his disciple. He had previously taught about the necessity of loving him more than anyone or anything else. Then he said we must take up our cross daily if we would be his disciples – all costs we must be willing to pay to enter the kingdom.

Then Jesus illustrated the ultimate cost by the following story: “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace” (Luke 14:31-32). Again, the second sentence deals with counting the cost. In this case, however, the cost may be death. In the days of the Old Testament we saw examples where Israel, as the invading army, were ordered by God to kill every living thing. Thus, God knew that the Jews would understand that if an army twice the size of your own was approaching, unless there was some way to avert a certain defeat, the smaller army would know it was likely that they would all be killed. Jesus suggests that in such a case the king with the smaller army would send a delegation to ask for terms of peace. 

What would such a delegation offer as terms for peace? Knowing the alternative for them was almost certain death, they would offer themselves as slaves if only the opposing king and army would let them live. Knowing that his audience would understand that, Jesus then said, “In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33). Likewise, our only chance for eternal life is to submit to Jesus as our Lord and offer to be his bondservant. 

What class of people has given up everything they have? Slaves! People that are slaves have nothing. All they do have is really their masters’. Over and over Scripture speaks of believers as servants, slaves, and bond-slaves. How do we know that those with a saving faith are slaves of the Lord Jesus? Paul told the Ephesian elders to be shepherds of the church which he [the Lord Jesus] bought with his own blood (Acts 20:28). On point to each of us, Paul told the Corinthians, “You are not your own; you were bought at a price” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, 7:23). Who is bought at a price? Slaves! They are the property of their owner.

A bond-slave is a unique category of slave. This derived from the Jews’ practice of being able to sell themselves into slavery to discharge a debt. The Old Testament law required that all such slaves be freed after seven years. In some instances though, a bond of affection developed between the master and slave and the slave may have had a much better life as a slave than he did before. In some instances, when the seven years was up, the slave didn’t want to leave. In such a case, the slave could offer to become a bondservant. The conditions were different, however, for a bondservant. A bondservant had to commit to serve the master for life. His commitment to be a bond-slave had to be voluntary and he had to make a public declaration of his desire to be a bond-slave to his master. The procedure was the master and the slave would go to the elders of the city and the slave would declare his desire to serve the master as his bondservant. There was then a ceremony in which the lobe of the bond-slave’s ear was pierced by an awl and the awl was driven into the doorpost of the master’s house. After that ceremony, it was common for the master to give the slave a gold earring that distinguished him from the other slaves.

All true believers are bondservants of the Lord Jesus Christ. Our commitment must be voluntary, public (Romans 10:9), and we must commit to serve the Lord for our entire lives
(1 Corinthians 15:1-2, Colossians 1:21-23, Matthew 10:22, 24:13, and Mark 13:13). Because bond-slaves own nothing – everything belongs to their master – likewise we must give up everything we have if we are to be a bond-slave/disciple of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Jesus told two parables that confirm the prior interpretation. “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field” (Matthew 13:44). When we learn about the Gospel of our Lord Jesus, we find it is a treasure that has far greater value than anything else we can ever find or know. After we have counted the cost and found it worth it, we gladly give up everything we have in order to be a bond-slave of the Lord Jesus.

Likewise, Jesus told the second parable: “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it” (Matthew 13:45-46). The application is the same as above. When we learn about the surpassing greatness of the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, we go away and count the cost. When we find that there is truly nothing of such great value ever to be found again, we gladly ask Jesus to be our Lord and offer ourselves to him as his bondservants, giving up everything we have.

All of Jesus’ teachings in this section fly in the face of a common practice in many churches and the practice of many evangelists. Many churches and evangelists present (their version of) the Gospel and ask for a response from those present, even though this may be the first time many have ever heard the Gospel. Sadly, in almost no cases, are the costs of following Jesus ever disclosed.[6] The person is not told that he should consider the costs of this wonderful treasure, but rather urged to make a decision instantly. Jesus taught otherwise. He wants followers who as disciples/bond-slaves have considered the cost and will follow him faithfully the rest of their lives.

Are you willing to give up everything you have to follow the Lord Jesus as his bond-slave? If not, you are practicing religion but do not have a saving faith. You are on the broad road that leads to destruction. 

But if you are willing to receive Jesus as your Lord and to undertake the role of a bond-slave of our Lord Jesus, your only responsibility thereafter is to obey him and remain faithful for the rest of your life. You can rely on your master to provide the necessities of your life. Jesus assured us, “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things [what you will eat, or drink, or wear] will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33). Paul taught, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love God, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). What a privilege it is to serve the King of kings and the Lord of lords!

Test: Do You Put Into Practice What You Have Heard?

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash” (Matthew 7:24-27).

We saw earlier that Jesus’ words have supernatural power and life. Jesus says that his words do not have power, however, for the person who does not put them practice. How can we expect a changed life if we do not follow the instruction manual that tells us how to have a changed life? Jesus tells us the rules and requirements for his kingdom – a kingdom very different from that of this world. His servants behave differently, think differently, and even appear different. They show love even toward their enemies. They forgive freely and retain no grudges. They encourage, not discourage.

James was concerned about people who listen and listen but fail to act upon what they hear. He warned, “Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does (James 1:23-25). Let’s remember an important point James is making. We are not to look one time into the word – the perfect law that gives freedom – but we are to continue to do this. And we are to do what the word says to do. By doing this, we will build up our memories, and our memory will be reinforced by our actions. We will acquire positive habits that will further reinforce what we have heard and learned and are putting into practice.   

The person who does not put into practice what he has heard is also not obedient to the will of God and will not enter the kingdom of heaven; he will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9). 

Test: Do You Believe In the Son of God?

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). 

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him” (John 3:36).

God promises eternal life to whoever believes in his Son. But what of those who don’t believe? God’s wrath remains on them. Paul said we were by nature objects of wrath (Ephesians 2:3). Until we come to believe in Jesus with a saving faith, we are by nature in rebellion against God, following the ruler of the kingdom of the air [Satan], the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient (Ephesians 2:2). Clearly believing in God’s Son is a salvation issue.

If we can have eternal life by believing on God’s Son, the critical question is, “What does it mean to believe in him?” I wrote the book Saving Faith[7] to answer that question. I recently wrote an article titled, “Saving Faith – What Is It?”[8] This is the most important question any of us can ask as the answer, and how we react to the answer, will determine our eternal future.

This entire article deals with tests and issues that are parts of a saving faith – necessary parts of believing in the Son of God so that we will have eternal life. The forces of darkness have sought to redefine “believe in him” (John 3:16, 36) as mental assent – simply believing that he exists, perhaps also that he died on the cross for our sins, that he rose from the dead and ascended into heaven, now sitting at the right hand of God the Father. But to believe in the Son of God for salvation is to believe in him, and in all that he stands for. We are to believe in Jesus as our Lord, to accept him as our Lord, and to obey him as our Lord. We have seen from many of the preceding tests that obedience to the teachings and commands of Jesus is at the heart of many of the tests. 

We know that a requirement in Scripture is part of a saving faith because within the requirement it will state (or strongly imply) that unless this requirement is satisfied, we will not have eternal life or will not enter heaven or will have no inheritance in the kingdom of heaven. For example, Jesus said, “no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again” (John 3:3). Being born again is thus a requirement of a saving faith, of “believe in him.” Likewise as to righteousness, Jesus said, “unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20). So it is with the many other requirements of a saving faith. I often call such requirements “facets” or “elements” of a saving faith, as they are all necessary parts of a larger whole – the saving faith.

The person who is obedient to the requirements of a saving faith will gain eternal life. He who rejects the requirements God has set forth in the Scripture for a saving faith will not gain eternal life. The same Scripture that promises eternal life for those who believe in him also denies eternal life to those who reject him.

Test: Do You Do the Will of God?

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). 

Did you get that? ONLY those who do God’s will are going to heaven. 

The teaching at Matthew 7:21 raises a necessary question. What is “the will of my Father who is in heaven” that we are to obey? Are we to obey every teaching and command in the Old and New Testaments?  No! 

When Jesus gave his disciples their marching orders – when he was about to leave this earth – he told them to make disciples of all the nations. Then he told them to do two things with these new disciples: (1) “Baptize them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit and (2) teach them to obey all that he had commanded them” (Matthew 28:18-20). 

First and foremost, God’s will is that New Testament believers obey everything that Jesus taught and did. How do we know that what Jesus said and did was the will of God? Because Jesus said, “For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say” (John 12:49-50). Jesus told us repeatedly that everything he did and everything he said is just what God the Father told him to do and say (John 6:38, 7:16, 8:28, 14:10, 14:24, 14:31).

Scripture says that Jesus’ words are the words of God: Jesus told us, “For the one whom God has sent [Jesus] speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit” (John 3:34) and “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I [Jesus] have spoken to you are spirit and they are life” (John 6:63). Simon Peter understood and said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). Jesus said the man who puts his words into practice is like the wise man who built his house on the rock (Matthew 7:24-28). Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Matthew 24:35).  

Paul’s teaching emphasized obedience. It may surprise you that he wrote the Romans, “Through him [Jesus] and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith” (Romans 1:5). Yes, Paul considered his calling not just to bring people to faith in the Lord Jesus, but to the obedience that comes from faith. It is only that obedience that will cause a believer to do the will of God and thus have the right to enter the kingdom of heaven.

Test: Are You Conformed To the Likeness of Jesus?

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers (Romans 8:29). 

This test is cast in stone if we take the text seriously. Before the foundations of the earth, when God established his plan of salvation, he predestined (pre-determined) a criterion for all those who would be saved. Those who would be saved would be like his Son. This particular test can be considered inclusive of all the other tests. If we are conformed to the likeness of Jesus, we will pass all the other tests. Jesus modeled for us what life is like in the Kingdom of God. 

Notice that we must be conformed to Jesus’ likeness. It is very clear to all of us that we don’t start out like Jesus. We begin with a sin nature that we must put to death as we take up our cross and follow Jesus. We have bad habits physically and mentally that must be changed. We must become new creatures, the old must pass away and the new must come. It is almost a form of metamorphosis – the caterpillar changing into the beautiful butterfly. So it is as we change from the ugliness of a person steeped in sin to the beauty of one who delights in righteousness. 

How do we accomplish this change? I believe it is done through the two-fold work of the indwelling Holy Spirit and the Word of God. Please permit me to use myself as an example. I finally had a true conversion when I asked Jesus to be Lord of my life and pledged to obey him the rest of my life. But I didn’t know what it would mean to obey him, so I began to consume the Gospels, reading them over and over. I remember the first time I read the Beatitudes and thinking, “How can anybody live like this?” I also distinctly remember reading the Beatitudes again, perhaps a year later, and thinking, “I live like this.” By inundating myself in the Word of God and reading, studying, digesting and seek to obey the teachings and commands of Jesus I had been transformed and began to be conformed to the likeness of Jesus. I am not saying that I have now become perfect. My wife will be the first to assure you that is not true, but she’ll be the first to say that the difference in me before and now is like night and day.

I cannot stress enough how important this test is. We saw the Apostle John’s test where he said, “Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did (1 John 2:6). This is the same test, phrased differently, but in Paul’s test revealed as the predestined requirement of God for those who will be saved.

It surprised me when I read someone’s interpretation of this verse, saying that it did not mean we were to be like Jesus now, but that it meant that we would be like Jesus when we got to heaven. That is not what it says. That is an attempt to excuse not being conformed to the likeness of Jesus now. As you remember, the Apostle John authoritatively dismissed that false interpretation when he wrote, “in this world we are like him (1 John 4:17). It is not later, but now, in this world, amid all the influences of the world that we are to be like Jesus. Paul also, as you remember, reinforced that understanding, ““Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold outthe word of life (Philippians 2:14-16). Where are we to do this? In this crooked and depraved generation. When are we to be blameless and pure? Now, today, as we hold out the word of life to those who are not saved.

The test works both ways. Those God foreknew would not be saved are those who fail to be conformed to the likeness of his Son. 

The Failure Of the Church

As we have seen in the above tests, there are many conditions that are part of a saving faith, all of them established by God in the Scriptures. It is the duty and responsibility of the church to preach and to teach the conditions of salvation so that people will know what is required to be a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ in order to have salvation.

You should have been made aware through your church (and your personal study of Scripture) of everything that has been written in this article. You should be keenly aware that God has many requirements for those he will adopt as his children. You should know that failure to obey his commands is rebellion against God and will incur his wrath. That is why Jesus said, “I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him” (Luke 12:5). 

Sadly, today’s church is more characterized by Paul’s quote, “There is no fear of God before their eyes”(Romans 3:18, quoting Psalm 36:1). 

Why do our churches so rarely teach the fear of God? It is because of major heresies that have become mainstream. Heresies have become the accepted norm. They are the new gospel. This new gospel teaches that one need only once accept Jesus as one’s personal Savior and that person will have eternal life – forever – and it can never be lost no matter what they do. Sins once forgiven are forgiven both retrospectively and prospectively. 

Such is the teaching of the false, but widely accepted doctrine of unconditional eternal security.[9] According to that doctrine, all the tests we have recited above are meaningless. To whom could they apply? Surely not to the persons who have once accepted Jesus as their Savior and who are forever saved (according to this false doctrine). The only things the teachers of this false doctrine can stress (in order to motivate their people) are how many rewards their adherents will have in heaven if they do the right thing or how their lives here on earth will lack the peace and joy and abundant life that God intends for them if they do the wrong things. 

Hand in glove are the doctrines of Calvinism, primarily that of predestination, that teach that one’s salvation was determined before the foundation of the earth and nothing anyone can do will change that. There can be fear of a God that condemns all who are not predestined to salvation, but that fear is useless. If one is predestined to hell, there is nothing that can be done to change that. If one is predestined to salvation, fear of God is likewise without influence on the behavior of the person, because that person will be saved, whether or not the person has a desire to be saved and irrespective of that person’s conduct.

Resulting from those heresies, there are two great failings by much of the church that will damn untold millions to hell. The first is their failure to present Jesus as Lord and their failure to preach and teach that receiving him as Lord is essential to salvation.[10] Peter told the Jews, “God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). Paul said of Jesus, “For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living” (Romans 14:9) and, as to salvation, “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9) and “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).

Jude warned the people of his time, but his warning is equally applicable today: “For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord” (Jude 4). Teachers and preachers of unconditional eternal security tend to preach Jesus as Savior and deny that wicked acts can affect salvation, exactly as warned by Jude.

The second major failing of the church is its failure to teach new converts to obey all that Jesus commanded. Jesus gave this direct command to all who followed as Christians. The church at large disobeys and disregards this command as though it had never been given. Yet Jesus’ teachings and commands transform lives, and create disciples who are conformed to the likeness of their master (Romans 8:29). Those who are not taught and who do not know the teachings and commands of Jesus cannot do the will of our Father who is in heaven! Yet they must do the will of our Father in heaven if they are to enter the kingdom of heaven. On whose hands will be the blood of these untold millions? Who are those who began and perpetuate the heresies that cause disobedience to direct commands of our Lord Jesus? I suspect their punishment will be far greater than any others in hell. James said, “We who teach will be judged more strictly” (James 3:1). 

The Lordship of Jesus is foundational to the requirements of obedience presented over and over in the preceding tests. Why are Christians to obey? Because true Christians are bondservants of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus is the supreme power and authority in heaven and earth, having been given all power and authority in heaven and earth by the Father (Matthew 28:18). A faithful bondservant will always obey his master. The tests we have seen show that salvation requires obedience – that we obey the commands and teachings of Jesus and do the will of our Father who is in heaven. Those who fail and refuse to obey stand condemned (Matthew 7:21-23, 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9). 

Jesus is often portrayed as soft and loving, easily forgiving all. While Jesus is the consummate example of love, having given himself as a sacrifice so our sins could be forgiven, he is also a just and mighty ruler. Intertwined with another parable, Jesus told this parable about himself: 

 “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return . . .. But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We don’t want this man to be our king.’. . . He was made king, however, and returned home. [When he returned, he said] “Those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me’” (Luke 19:12, 14-15, 27).

We should also remember that Jesus is referred to many times in prophecy as coming again to rule with an iron scepter (Revelation 2:27, 12:5, 19:15). In Psalm 2, God the Father is speaking about the Lord Jesus, his Son: “You will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery” (Psalm 2: 9). God continued, “Serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him” (Psalm 2:11-12). 

It is the Lord Jesus Christ who will sit one day in judgment. Will he ask each person before him what he believed? No! The Apostle John told us what will happen: “Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:11-15).

Commands of Jesus

Many people are unaware of the many commands of Jesus recorded in the Gospels and the Revelation. Many times people are unaware that Jesus altered and sometimes reversed commands of the Old Testament. For example, our entire society seems to think that all the Ten Commandments are to be obeyed. Many assume those are the commands of Christ. But Jesus did not affirm all the Ten Commandments. If he had, then all Christians who worship on Sunday are worshipping on the wrong day. Further, if he had confirmed keeping the Sabbath, as commanded to the Jews, then our practice of what we do on that day is also grossly wrong. No, Jesus did not confirm Sabbath worship but instead proclaimed himself Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8, Luke 6:5). Jesus deliberately (at the command of his Father) broke the rules and regulations of the Sabbath by healing on the Sabbath, thus enraging the Pharisees who then plotted to kill him.

Jesus changed some commands whose breach can cause loss of salvation. All of us likely know the command, “Thou shall not commit adultery.” But Jesus changed that command and made it much harder to keep. No longer must one commit the physical act of intercourse with a married person to be guilty of adultery. Jesus said, “I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). Is this an important issue today? Consider what is shown on TV? There are all manner of programs which seem to glorify ungodly lifestyles, that show people committing adultery, that feature women scantily clad, or sometimes nude, all with the seeming objective of causing lust in the mind and heart of the viewer. Today we have widespread use of computers and access to the Internet. For the first time ever, perhaps, people can view pornography on their computer monitor, all available with the seeming purpose of causing lust in the mind and heart of the viewer. This is an addictive sin. We have long had magazines that presented women nude or semi-nude in provocative positions, all again with the seeming purpose of creating lust in the mind and heart of the viewer. God, who looks at the heart, thus judges a person who lusts after a woman as an adulterer. Is this a salvation issue? John wrote, “ . . . the sexually immoral . . . their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death” (Revelation 21:8).

Another command Jesus changed has to do with the third command (of the Ten Commandments) not to take the name of the Lord your God in vain. Often this is considered a prohibition against swearing and rightly so. But it likely was really intended to prevent people from swearing in God’s name to the truth of something that was false – taking the name of God in vain. In the Old Testament, the Israelites were commanded, “Fear the LORD your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name” (Deuteronomy 6:13). Jesus reversed this, saying:

I tell you, “Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one” (Matthew 5:34-37).

We can understand what Jesus said, but can that be a salvation issue? For that we go to the Apostle James who did understand. He said, “Above all, my brothers, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your “Yes” be yes, and your “No,” no, or you will be condemned” (James 5:12). Notice that James used the same language as Jesus, “Let your “Yes” be yes, and your “No,” no.” But he continued, “Or you will be condemned.”

Why should that be such a big issue? I believe it is because God knew that we will inadvertently, if not deliberately, misrepresent facts. Tests have been done that show a sudden, dramatic event to a number of people. When those people later recount what happened, almost all differ in what they believe they saw.

That is also true in a court of law when people are recounting events they have seen. Their memories may be vague or they saw the events inaccurately. You may ask, “What are Christians to do in a court of law when they are told to place their hand on the Bible and say, “I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God”? Christians long before you and me objected to saying that oath, so the courts devised an alternative oath for Bible-believing and obeying Christians. It reads something like this, “I declare under penalty of perjury, knowing full well the penalty therefore, that I will tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” God’s name is not invoked. Thus the Christian who takes that oath cannot mistakenly take the name of his God in vain.

Did you know that? If not, why not?

Jesus reversed another Old Testament teaching, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth’ (Exodus 21:24; Leviticus 24:20; Deuteronomy 19:21). But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Matthew 5:29). 

Jesus reversed another teaching common in his day: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:43-44). 

Jesus expanded another teaching: “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment” (Matthew 5:21-22). The Apostle John gave a similar warning: Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him (1 John 2:15).

Perhaps you’ve known of ministries who have lists of donors that they sometimes categorize according to the amount given. Sometimes the largest donors are called Platinum Donors, less large, Gold Donors, and lesser donors, Silver Donors. These may be people who are giving with the idea of laying up treasure in heaven, a biblical teaching from Jesus. But the manner in which they are doing it may deprive them of any benefit whatsoever. Jesus taught,

“Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:1-4). 

Professional fund-raising organizations are sometimes employed by churches to raise money to build a new facility, to purchase land, or for whatever other purpose the church has need for money. One of the techniques frequently used is to obtain pledges from the people. They then post the names and amounts of the pledges, perhaps to urge others to pledge and/or raise the amount of their pledge. Though it may be for a “good cause,” this manner of giving is not secret and is contrary to what Jesus taught.

How different the Lord’s standards, as Jesus taught them, are from the world’s standards and even the standards of giving used by our churches. Has your church taught you Jesus’ teachings?

We’ve already seen the necessity of forgiving one another from the heart. Were you aware before that even in the Lord’s Prayer we are asking only to be forgiven to the extent that we forgive others? Were you aware that Jesus said, “But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins”? (Matthew 6:15). There cannot be salvation for anyone who is not forgiven of his or her sins. If anyone could gain salvation without forgiveness of sins, then Jesus died in vain. As we showed earlier, this is clearly a salvation issue as Jesus stated, “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart” (Matthew 18:36).  What does “this is how” refer to? Jesus said the unforgiving servant would be turned over to the torturers.

To shorten this article, we will not go through each of the teachings and commands of Jesus. They can be studied at length in the Bible Study titled “Teachings and Commands of Jesus.”[11]

Please understand the importance of Jesus’ command to teach disciples to obey his teachings and commands. All disciples of Jesus are to be conformed to his likeness. Jesus modeled for us his teachings and commands. How are we to be like him if we do not study and learn to obey what he has taught and modeled? We cannot. There is also a supernatural dimension that takes place in the person who diligently studies and applies what Jesus said and did. The Holy Spirit is given to the person who commits to obey Jesus. The fruit of the Spirit are seen in the lives of those who have the indwelling Holy Spirit. Truly, as Jesus said, his words are spirit and they are life. 

False Doctrines Within The Church

For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths (2 Timothy 4:3). 

The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons (1 Timothy 4:1).

This time has come. When the doctrine of unconditional eternal security has become the dominant doctrine in many churches, we have reached the time when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Their itching ears want to hear that no matter what they may do, their salvation is secure and they will go to heaven. They have turned their ears away from the truth and have turned aside to myths, just as Paul told Timothy would happen.

Not only in America, but also in New Zealand the doctrine of unconditional eternal security has permeated most churches. It seems that pastors are fearful of saying anything against the doctrine for fear of being ostracized. It is time pastors everywhere carefully explain to their congregations that this doctrine is not true even if it means the church fires them. They should investigate it with their congregations verse by verse, using the whole Bible. That will easily, quickly prove the falsity of that doctrine. Likely most pastors know that may not be easy. There are few people as angry as eternal security adherents who believe their doctrine of unconditional eternal security is being attacked. They don’t want to hear it. They are relying on that doctrine to live the way they wish to live while having the appearance of godliness.

Dr. Charles Stanley

Our usual practice is to quote Scripture only, but it is possible some of our readers may not fully recognize how false the doctrine of unconditional eternal security is and how deadly it is to the salvation of the person who follows it. A reader unfamiliar with this doctrine may find it almost unbelievable that people would have created such a doctrine, recognizing immediately it is incompatible with the teachings of Scripture.[12] 

I’ve chosen the teaching and writings of Dr. Charles Stanley to represent the unconditional eternal security doctrine, as Dr. Stanley is certainly the best-known proponent of the doctrine. His influence in the Christian church is immense. He was twice president of the Southern Baptist Convention. His international TV and radio program, “In Touch,” is broadcast throughout the world. His book Eternal Security Can You Be Sure?[13] can be found in almost any Christian bookstore.

According to Dr. Charles Stanley, the definition of unconditional eternal security is “eternal security is that work of God in which He guarantees that the gift of salvation once received is possessed forever and cannot be lost.”[14] Those who hold this doctrine often teach that if a person has once made a sincere confession of faith by trusting Jesus as his Savior for the forgiveness of sin that person has salvation and can never lose that salvation.

Paul and Jesus listed various sins (including adultery) and said that those who do these sins will not inherit the kingdom of God and will be thrown in the lake of burning sulphur. Dr. Stanley says: 

“It is not lying, cheating, stealing, raping, murdering, or being unfaithful that sends people to hell.”[15] 

Strange, isn’t it, that the Scripture said the exact opposite. The writer to the Hebrews said that God will judge the adulterer. None of those Scriptures made any exceptions for those who claim to have once received the gift of salvation. Nor does Paul’s warning to the Ephesians:

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.  4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.  5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.  6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient (Ephesians 5:3-6).

Notice his warning at the end. Let no one deceive you with empty words. Paul says it is because of such sins – immoral, impure, and greedy – that God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Is Dr. Stanley deceiving with empty words, just as Paul warned his readers? Dr. Stanley’s assurances are the opposite of the repeated warnings of Scripture and the tests of Scripture that we have reviewed in this article.

If the eternal security proponents are right, why did Jesus give the following warning?

If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell” (Matthew 5:29-30).

Jesus says that sin caused by your eye or your hand will indeed cause your whole body to be thrown into hell. Jesus says it is better to cut off or gouge out the offending part of the body than to be thrown into hell.

However, Dr. Stanley writes:

But if a man or woman who has been rescued once from a state of unforgiveness need not worry. For once 100 percent of a man’s or woman’s sins have been forgiven, the potential for being unforgiven has been done away with. The risk factor is zero. There are no more fires from which the believer needs to be saved.[16] [Emphasis added.]

As you see from the prior quotation, those who subscribe to the eternal security doctrine will assure you that nothing you do will affect your salvation if you are certain that you once were rescued from a state of unforgiveness. According to Dr. Stanley, there are no sins that can affect your salvation, notwithstanding what Scripture says, no matter that Paul warned both the Corinthians and the Galatians about sins that would prevent those practicing them from inheriting the kingdom of God, and no matter that Jesus told the Apostle John about sins that would cause people to be condemned to hell. According to Dr. Stanley, none of those scriptures can pertain to those who hold to the doctrine of eternal security if they once trusted in Jesus for forgiveness of sins and received the gift of salvation.

Dr. Stanley goes even further. He wrote: 

“The Bible clearly teaches that God’s love for His People is of such magnitude that even those who walk away from the faith have not the slightest chance of slipping from His hand.”[17] On other occasions he taught, “Even if a believer for all practical purposes becomes an unbeliever, his salvation is not in jeopardy”[18] and “ . . . believers who lose or abandon their faith will retain their salvation . . ..”[19] [Emphasis added.]

What should people conclude who accept the doctrine of unconditional eternal security? Is divorce a problem? Of course not. Adultery? How could it be? According to Dr. Stanley, if a person once received the gift of salvation and once was forgiven 100% of his/her sins, then all future sins have also been forgiven and he/she cannot lose their salvation.

Is it any wonder why divorce is so rampant in churches that teach the eternal security doctrine? There is no reason whatsoever to accept the teachings of Jesus on the subject of divorce because the eternal security proponents assure them that no sins will send people to hell if they once trusted in Jesus for forgiveness of sins. It doesn’t matter if they live in continuing adultery. According to the eternal security proponents, not inheriting the kingdom of God and being condemned to hell have nothing to do with the sins they commit.[20]

Dr. Stanley also claims:

“ . . . God does not require a constant attitude of faith in order to be saved – only an act of faith[21] He says, “It [saving faith] is a singular moment in time wherein we take what God has offered[22] He wrote: “Faithful or not, every person who has at any time had saving faith is a permanent part of the body of Christ.”[23] [Emphasis added.]

Scripture, however, has quite a different message, emphasizing that it is continued faith and faithfulness that counts. The idea of a one-time commitment that saves forever is foreign to Scripture. Consider Paul’s warning to the Corinthians:

Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain (1 Corinthians 15:1-2).  [Emphasis added.]

This scripture is especially important. Paul reminds the Corinthians that they received the gospel, took their stand on it, and are saved IF they hold firmly to it. What if they don’t hold firmly to it? Paul warns they will have believed in vain

Likewise, Paul’s warning to the Colossians:

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.  But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation — if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant (Colossians 1:21-23. See also James 1:12).

The above is Paul’s summary of the Gospel, of which he became a servant. All the good news of the Gospel is there, provided – the IF – you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. God requires much from those he delivers from the kingdom of darkness into his glorious light. Their reward will be an inheritance in the kingdom of God instead of being cast into the fiery lake of burning sulphur.

Jesus emphasized the need to persevere: “All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved” (Matthew 10:22) and “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:12-13).

Dr. Stanley also claims, “ . . . we are presented with a Christian who at no point in his entire life bore any eternal fruit. And yet his salvation is never jeopardized”[24] and “ . . . there are Christians who show no evidence of their Christianity as well.”[25] [Emphasis added.]

Jesus refuted such claims at John 15. 

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful . . ..

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.  If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. (John 15:1-2, 5-6. See also Luke 13:6-7.)

Branches who bear no fruit are cut off from Christ by God the Father. These were branches that were in Christ. What is done with branches that do not bear fruit? They are thrown away and wither, then picked up and thrown into the fire and burned

If one were to deliberately set out to create false doctrines that would strongly conflict with Scripture and cause all those who follow them to be denied salvation and to be thrown in hell, it would be hard to do it better than we have seen in Dr. Stanley’s statements just quoted. In each of the major areas of faith, his position is the opposite of that of Scripture.

While there are some variations, of course, among those who preach, teach, and advocate the doctrine of unconditional eternal security, Dr. Stanley’s views seem basically representative of them. Any doctrine that conflicts with Scripture is false. I hope you’ve been able to see clearly the magnitude of error of this false doctrine. Please do not think for a moment that because a man is highly regarded and an eloquent speaker that he must be correct in what he says. How does what he say mesh with what the Bible says? If it does not mesh perfectly, be cautious. If it does not agree with basic principles of Scripture, abandon that person quickly before you become tainted with his false doctrines.

Scripture is the source of our knowledge of God, it reveals the Lord Jesus Christ, it tells the plan of salvation, and discloses God’s requirements for those he will adopt as his sons and daughters. It tells us of the existence of Satan and about demons. It exposes and even prophesies about false doctrines – even those we have discussed here – and warns against them. Notwithstanding all Scripture’s warnings, the church at large has followed and is following false doctrines.

Conclusion

We began this article with the scripture, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?” (2 Corinthians 13:5). Who are you to examine? Who are you to test? Yourself! There is nothing said about testing and examining others. Only we know the condition of our own heart. We can put on a great front for others, but what is going on behind our eyeballs? What are we thinking? Are we really bitter and resentful? Do we have sexual fantasies or secretly view pornographic images on the Internet, in movies, on TV, in magazines, and elsewhere? Do we have sinful secrets in our own hearts? God knows even though no one else does. It is God who will judge us.  Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account (Hebrews 4:13).

As I wrote this article I became more and more convinced that this is a study of the laws of another kingdom. My wife Dar and I are familiar with that. When we immigrated to New Zealand a few years ago, we found the laws of the United States meant nothing there. In New Zealand we were expected to live according to the laws of New Zealand. It would mean nothing to the authorities there if we were to argue that we did it differently in the United States. 

So it is with the Kingdom of God. Scripture teaches that once we enter the Kingdom of God and entrust ourselves to the Lord Jesus as the King of that Kingdom, we have changed allegiances. We have given up citizenship in this world. We have become aliens here. As resident aliens we must obey the laws of the country in which we live. As citizens of the Kingdom of God, we are called to be obedient to our King, the Lord Jesus, and to live according to his laws. If there is a conflict of laws, we are to obey our King! We have seen that to be a friend of this world and to love this world (the other kingdom) is to be an enemy of God. Scripture teaches that we are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, and with all our mind. We can’t love the world and love God. We must choose. 

It also impressed me, as I wrote, studied these tests, and applied them to myself, that these tests called for whole-hearted love of the Lord Jesus and obedience to him. Jesus said we must give up everything we have if we are to be his disciple. A half-hearted commitment will never do. Jesus did not half-heartedly obey his Father. He said that everything he did and said was exactly what the Father told him to do and say. We are to obey in the same way.

Christianity has evolved into a weekly Sunday worship time for most professing Christians. For many, there is little to show for their Christian beliefs the rest of the week. Is that permissible for a true Christian? Paul commanded us to live a different life-style that is a whole-hearted commitment: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving (Colossians 3:23-24). In our work and in our play, our focus should always be on the King of the Kingdom and being a witness for him – a light before men. Jesus exhorted us to seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness (Matthew 6:33). 

If you have read this far, you are showing perseverance and a desire to know more. If you find you haven’t measured up and haven’t passed the tests, then do as Jesus taught. Consider the cost of following Jesus as your Lord. Are you willing to pay the price? Are you willing to obey Jesus and his teachings and commands no matter what the cost? Are you willing to love him more than all others, even your own life, take up your cross and follow him, and give up everything you have in order to be his disciple? If you are willing, it is time to tell him that. Ask Jesus to be the Lord of your life. Tell him it is your desire to obey him the best you can the rest of your life. Then diligently study the Gospels. Find out what Jesus said and did. How did he live here on earth? How can you learn from him how to better live your life as his disciple? Seek daily to learn and obey everything Jesus said. It is those who do the will of our Father in heaven who will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

Watch your life to see how the Holy Spirit brings love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control such as you have never known. Talk to the Lord Jesus often throughout the day. Seek his guidance in everything you do and everything you say and even how you do and say it. Ask him how you may serve him. Ask him how you can please him. Then do it! Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).

Look for those works that God prepared in advance for you to do. Seek to advance the Kingdom of your Lord and King in every way you can. Most importantly, in obedience to your Lord, teach new converts to obey everything the Lord Jesus taught and commanded so they may experience the new life you now have so they too may be conformed to the likeness of Jesus.

Finally, know that the way ahead is not easy and may get much harder. It is likely there will be real persecution ahead for those who are true disciples of the Lord Jesus. Be prepared for the long haul, the hard times, and determine to persevere to the end. Jesus promised that those who stand firm to the end will be saved. 

May our Lord bless you as you do these things and may you one day hear our Lord Jesus say, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:21,23). 


This article can be found at http://www.bereanpublishers.com | Salvation Issues | Test Yourselves!


Footnotes

[1]The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1984 . Zondervan: Grand Rapids

[2] For a discussion of that issue, see www.bereanpublishers.com | Salvation Issues | “Saving Faith – What is it?” . 

[3] Please see www.bereanpublishers.com | Important Issues | “Which Law Does the Christian Obey?”

[4] According to Josh McDowell, the science of probabilities shows that coincidence is ruled out. Josh related a study done by Peter Stoner published in Science Speaks. Mr. Stoner considered only eight of the many prophecies about the Christ, namely that he would be born in Bethlehem, that he would be preceded by a messenger, that he would enter Jerusalem on a donkey, that he would be betrayed by a friend, that he would be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver, that the money would be thrown in God’s house and then used to buy a Potter’s field, that he would remain silent before his accusers, that he would have his hands and feet pierced and that he would be crucified.

[5] From a brochure advertising the Fall 2003 President’s Council.

[6] For a substantial discussion of the failure of the church to present the whole Gospel and to disclose the costs of following Jesus, see www.bereanpublishers.com | Salvation Issues | “Fraud and Deceit in the Presentation of the Gospel.”

[7] Saving Faith by Bernie Koerselman can be obtained from Berean Publishers, 1122 East Broadway, N. Newton, KS 67114, Email: eklassen@southwind.net.

[8] “Saving Faith – What Is it?” can be found at www.bereanpublishers.com | Salvation Issues

[9] See www.bereanpublishers.com | False Doctrines | The Doctrine of Unconditional Eternal Security. There are eight articles listed. Two particularly recommended are “Proofs of Conditional Salvation” and “Is the Believer Eternally Secure?”

[10] For a thorough Scriptural review of the requirement that Jesus be Lord of all who would be saved, see www.bereanpublishers.com | Book: A Saving Faith | Chapter 2: Jesus Is Lord.

[11] Find at www.bereanpublishers.com | Bible Studies | The Teachings and Commands of Jesus.

[12] The following is taken in large part from www.bereanpublishers.com | Important Issues | May Christians Divorce (And Remarry)?

[13] Stanley, Charles, Eternal Security Can You Be Sure? (Nashville , TN: Oliver Nelson, 1990),

[14] Stanley, Charles, “Eternal Security What Do We Have To Lose?, Tape #6, MI090.

[15] Ibid, p. 70.

[16] Ibid, pages 79-80.

[17] Ibid, page 74.

[18] Ibid, page 93.

[19] Ibid, page 94.

[20] For a more complete discussion refuting the doctrine of unconditional eternal security, see the website www.bereanpublishers.co.nz, False doctrines, “Is the Believer Eternally Secure?”

[21] Supra 6, p. 80

[22] Ibid, page 81.

[23] Ibid, page 94.

[24] Ibid, page 121.

[25] Ibid, page 71.