Posts Tagged ‘limited atonement’

Thoughts on the Kings of Israel and Judah – and Eternal Security

April 3, 2019

As I approach the end of 2nd Chronicles in my daily reading, it is interesting to note the behaviour of each king from the beginning of his reign until the end – which is usually marked by his death. Some kings (like Joash) start off well and please the Lord. We are told that “Joash did that which was right in the sight of the Lord all the days of Je-hoi-a-da the priest.” (2Chronicles 24v2)

However, after the death of the priest we learn that the princes of Judah “made obeisance to the king. Then the king hearkened unto them.” (Verse 17) Listening to man, I feel, was the downfall of Joash for after all the good he had accomplished in repairing the house of the Lord, after the death of Je-hoi-a-da, he turned to idolatry. As a result he would not listen to Zechariah, the son of the priest whom we are told had “the Spirit of God.” He said “because ye have forsaken the Lord, he hath also forsaken you.” (Verse 20) Sadly Zechariah was stoned to death for merely warning Joash of the wrath to come – and it did come, in the form of an attack from the Syrians. “When a man’s ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.” (Proverbs 16v7). When we read about the lives of the kings, we can see that the reverse is also true.

There are other kings who started off well in their reign but something then happened to mar their relationship with the Lord. Certainly David walked perfectly with the Lord “save in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.” David and some other kings are greatly repentant and restored in their walk with the Lord but there are kings (like Ahaz) who from start to finish are steeped in idolatry and never got right with God at any time during their reign.

We are not told either way whether Joash (who died at the hands of his servants after being attacked by the Syrians) found peace with God in his final hours. It saddens me to think that all the good that he had previously accomplished in repairing the house of God would be vanquished by his later actions.

In Ezekiel 18v24 we read: “When the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die.”

By the same token… “if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die.” (Verse 21)

“Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. Hear now, O house of Israel; Is not my way equal? Are not your ways unequal?” (Verse 25)

Today there is a doctrine permeating many churches globally and the ways of this doctrine are not equal. It holds that an individual can commit his life to the Lord and then enjoy the position of unconditional eternal security, no matter what sin or degradation he descends to in the present or future – even if he never repents of it. While some preachers promise their congregation “liberty,” they simultaneously tell them that they “are slaves to sin.” Indeed I have heard these very words uttered from the pulpit. We have to ask ourselves, did the Lord suffer and die so that those who commit their lives to Him should be “slaves to sin?”

In 2Peter 2v19-22, we read… “While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought into bondage. For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment, delivered unto them.”

But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.” Here we learn that it is indeed possible to fall way.

Like the kings of the Old Testament, some of whom walked with the Lord for a while and then fell away, Revelation 2 has a message for certain churches or categories of Christian…. “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works, or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” (Verse 4&5)

Thousands of years ago in the Garden of Eden the devil uttered those words…”Yea, hath God said…?”(Genesis 3v1) He assures Eve… “Ye shall not surely die.” (Verse 4) And he still utters them today. But today, praise God, there is eternal security for the believer who rests in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ at Calvary. We are told “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” (1John 2v1) Note, it is not when we sin.

Something else has never changed since the Garden of Eden… God never has taken away the free will of mankind. Unlike mindless robots, invented to perform certain duties, the Lord wants nothing but our wholehearted and sincere love for Him, His ways and His Word. He never forces His way into our lives and He never drives us on that narrow road. The Shepherd ever leads us. By faith we trust Him and we follow Him by faith all the way. Our security is sure in Him, as long as we desire His Presence in our lives, obey His Word and follow the Shepherd. We are exhorted to “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12v14)

Yes, of course “backsliders” can be restored. The Lord takes no pleasure in the death of those who die spiritually (Ezekiel 18v32) and is long suffering to us-word, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2Peter 3v9) But I believe that there is a point at which this may not be possible and certainly if someone remains in unrepentant sin, he will die in his sin.

There is a dangerous doctrine which states that “God doesn’t see my sin – He looks at Jesus and I am forgiven.” Where in scripture does it say this? Sadly, this idea may leave people with the notion that they have no need to repent of sin. Another well-known statement I have heard is that “when we trust the Lord to save us, all our sins are forgiven: past, present and future.” Again, there is no scripture to back the latter. Yes, past sins are forgiven when we repent of them. However, no sin is forgiven until it is repented of, whether the person concerned is a professing Christian or not – for God’s ways are equal.

The vast majority of evangelical Christian churches and fellowships in the Republic of Ireland adhere to the doctrine of unconditional eternal security and some would even go as far as to say that the Lord Jesus Christ only died for certain people.

His creation is precious in His sight. He died for them all – not just “the elect” (another subject which I have touched on briefly and will do so again) “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1John 2v2)

Praise God His atonement is not limited – and neither is His mercy. It is His will that souls are not led astray into a false sense of security, in which they think that they do not have to get right with Him, concerning many serious issues and even deep sin in their lives. There is a reckoning day coming and His message to all is… “Cast away from you all your transgressions; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.” (Ezekiel 18v31&32)

“The Harvest Truly is Great” (Luke 10v2)

August 30, 2010

Tonight I watched a great harvester making its way down the lane to the fields behind our home. This annual activity never fails to remind me of the spiritual analogy of that “Great Harvest,” spoken of by Jesus in the gospels.

Are you ready for that Great Harvest? At present the ‘tares and the wheat’ grow together in our world, but some day there will be a separation. Jesus said: “Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.” (Matt. 13v30). The alternative to the ‘barn’ (or the safety of heaven) is unthinkable. John the Baptist said… “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear:  he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (Matt. 3v11&12).

The ‘day of the Lord’ is near in ‘the valley of decision.’ (Joel 3v14) This then is the sombre question for each soul upon the earth… ‘Will you be numbered with the wheat – or with the tares?’ Note Joshua’s exhortation in Joshua 24v15… “choose you this day whom ye will serve;” God forbid that we should hear these words… “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels…” (Matt. 25v41). Indeed the lake of fire was prepared for the devil and his angels; it was never God’s will that members of the human race (who were made in His image and for whom the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ was shed) should go there. I remember once being convicted by that verse… “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” (Jer. 8v20). But praise God that I decided to follow Him, and am no longer numbered with the tares. Prior to my conversion, I remember also being troubled and confused by the words of someone who said that we had no control over our own destinies, and that God had pre-destined all souls into either eternal bliss in heaven – or eternal suffering in hell. For a short time I seriously thought that I may be one of those who were ‘predestined to go to hell.’ This filled me with an indescribable bleak helplessness, until the Lord opened my eyes.

God, because He is omniscient, naturally knows the path that each one of us will take – yes, even before the foundation of the world. Therefore… “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” (Rom. 8v29&30). Here we may see clearly that those whom He foreknew who would choose to follow Him, and endure unto the end (Matt.10v22), are predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son. Since His blood avails for all (1John 2v2; 1Tim. 2v6; 2Cor 5v14&15), it is His will that all should come to repentance in Him, and that none should perish (2Pet. 3v9). If people perish, it is because they have chosen the “broad road that leads to destruction” (Matt. 7v13) – not because they have been pre-destined to eternal destruction. Nowhere in God’s Word are we told that we have no control over our own destinies! Furthermore, how can His ambassadors be effective in their work and witness, when they have (at the back of their minds) a conception that the eternal destinies of all souls have been foreordained?

As I tossed, unable to sleep one night, I longed that the whole world of men and women and boys and girls, would see the goodness of the Lord who gave His only begotten Son – and not only see, but repent, and trust Him for salvation. “For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them…” (Luke 9v56). To the Christian He says: “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? Behold I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth. I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours.” (John 4v35-38). He has work for you and me to do, while it is ‘day.’ Great harvesters work steadily for long hours, so that costly sheaves of golden grain may be safely gathered into the storehouse. Oh that our lives would be burned out in His service, and that we could say with the apostle Paul… “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” (2Tim 4v7&8)

I saw a field of harvest gold,

Before the sun was set,

Each precious ear, a story told,

But the work is waiting yet.

O come with me, my Christian friend,

And let us work where he doth send,

For shadows grow, as night draws on,

And souls may die before the Dawn.

© Elizabeth Burke 2006