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Bittersweet Refinements: Chapter 18

Chapter 18

Contractual Obligations

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.  My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand.  I and the Father are one.” [John 10:27-30 NIV]

No, there is no reason to worry about being stolen from our Heavenly Father’s pen, but this is not to say that the gate is kept closed [John 10:9].  For it would not fulfill our Heavenly Father’s purposes to force anyone to spend all of eternity with Him in His Kingdom of Heaven as an heir to all that is His in glory against their will [John 1:12-13].

Therefore, let us want to guard against taking too much for granted [1 Corinthians 10:12].  For this is surely a path that leads to destruction [Matthew 15:13-14].

A good example of taking too much for granted involves something that I have been allowed and enabled to experience up close and oh so very personally.  For I was raised to believe that once a person is saved from eternal damnation through the acceptance of Christ Jesus as truly being their own personal Lord and Savior [John 3:16] that they would remain saved from eternal damnation [Ezekiel 18:4]—no matter what [Psalms 25:3].

What I am talking about is often referred to as being once saved/always saved, and I clung to this doctrine with all of my might while I was out there sowing my wild oats.  In fact, I would often preach such to drunken choirs in bars when there were not any fair young maidens around to try to entertain in other ways.

When I was changed, it was all brought into focus for me [2 Corinthians 5:14-21].  For instead of it being like a contract that cannot be altered by either party, the absolute truth of the matter truly is that a child of our Heavenly Father’s family remains a member of His family for as long as they want to because of how much He has always loved them [John 8:35].

In other words, it is all about being wanted, and this is something that we can all have faith in.  For it truly is as it is written: “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.  For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.  And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.  For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” [John 6:37-40 NIV]

No, it does not help matters much that it has been so widely taught that the love of God is nothing personal.  For that promotes an image of our Heavenly Father not wanting anyone to perish [Ezekiel 18:32] as being more about keeping score than anything else.

Alas, what a dreadful thing to look forward to.  For who would want to spend all of eternity with someone who could not care less about whether they (as in regards to them as an individual) are really there or not.

Yes, it is quite natural to think that spending a relatively loveless eternity in Heaven would be better than being cast into the Lake of Fire [Revelation 20:10-15], but if you would ask someone who is spending their life in a loveless marriage, I am quite sure they would be of the opinion that it would not be all that much better.  For if spending only twenty years in such a situation can feel like forever, just think what FOREVER AND EVER is going to feel like if the love that our Heavenly Father has for us is indeed completely devoid of passion.

Now, what about us?  For it is written: It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.  Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God.  But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned. [Hebrews 6:4-8 NIV]

Yes, the absolute truth of the matter truly is that one can lose their salvation.  For in order for our Heavenly Father to truly have the kind of relationship that He wants to have with each and every one of us, we must be free to reject Him—even after the marriage vows have been exchanged [John 15:14-17].

Granted, it can be correctly argued that not all who claim to have accepted Christ Jesus as truly being their own personal Lord and Savior actually have [Matthew 7:21-23], and that they did not have any salvation to lose when they appeared to fall away [2 Corinthians 11:13-15].  Nonetheless, such an argument does not negate the fact that it is the same with us as it is with our Heavenly Father’s holy angels [Jude 1:6].

No, this does not have anything to do with us earning our keep [Romans 11:6].  It does, however, have everything to do with us truly wanting to be one of our Heavenly Father’s children by faith [Luke 9:23-26], and most are not even close, nor have any desire to come closer, which places them in great danger of being spit out of His mouth, come Judgment Day [Revelation 3:14-22].

Come on now, all of you belligerent children be honest—is it not being proven to you at this very moment that your heart is still far away from Him [Isaiah 29:13]?  For you feel a great uneasiness stirring deep down in your very soul, which is not an unfamiliar feeling [John 16:8-11], and yet you continue to resist because of how contrary what our Heavenly Father actually says is absolutely true is in comparison to what you have really placed your faith in [John 3:19-21].

So, may your rebellion be brief [2 Peter 2:4-9].  For the end may be nearer than you think [2 Peter 3:8-14], but even if it isn’t, who in their right-mind would want to delay truly having a very close and personal relationship with our Heavenly Father [1 Corinthians 2:6-16]

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