666 is a number that catches our attention because we see it in Revelation as the Mark of the Beast. But, John 6:66 should also catch our attention:
- As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore.
This is a scary commentary, but Jesus has taught Salvation, Eternal Security, and now you see the fact that not all who believe actually believe (i.e. their head belief is not heart, salvific belief). Recently I have referenced the Baptist Faith & Message’s statement as well as Southern Seminary’s statement on the Perseverance of the Saints, so today I will give the more extensive 2ndLondon Baptist Confession’s statement (which you can see influenced Southern Seminary’s abbreviated version):
- Those whom God hath accepted in the beloved, effectually called and sanctified by his Spirit, and given the precious faith of his elect unto, can neither totally nor finally fall from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved, seeing the gifts and callings of God are without repentance, whence he still begets and nourisheth in them faith, repentance, love, joy, hope, and all the graces of the Spirit unto immortality; and though many storms and floods arise and beat against them, yet they shall never be able to take them off that foundation and rock which by faith they are fastened upon; notwithstanding, through unbelief and the temptations of Satan, the sensible sight of the light and love of God may for a time be clouded and obscured from them, yet he is still the same, and they shall be sure to be kept by the power of God unto salvation, where they shall enjoy their purchased possession, they being engraven upon the palm of his hands, and their names having been written in the book of life from all eternity. (John 10:28, 29; Philippians 1:6; 2 Timothy 2:19; 1 John 2:19; Psalms 89:31, 32; 1 Corinthians 11:32; Malachi 3:6)
- This perseverance of the saints depends not upon their own free will, but upon the immutability of the decree of election, flowing from the free and unchangeable love of God the Father, upon the efficacy of the merit and intercession of Jesus Christ and union with him, the oath of God, the abiding of his Spirit, and the seed of God within them, and the nature of the covenant of grace; from all which ariseth also the certainty and infallibility thereof. (Romans 8:30 Romans 9:11, 16; Romans 5:9, 10; John 14:19; Hebrews 6:17, 18; 1 John 3:9; Jeremiah 32:40)
- And though they may, through the temptation of Satan and of the world, the prevalency of corruption remaining in them, and the neglect of means of their preservation, fall into grievous sins, and for a time continue therein, whereby they incur God’s displeasure and grieve his Holy Spirit, come to have their graces and comforts impaired, have their hearts hardened, and their consciences wounded, hurt and scandalize others, and bring temporal judgments upon themselves, yet shall they renew their repentance and be preserved through faith in Christ Jesus to the end. (Matthew 26:70, 72, 74; Isaiah 64:5, 9; Ephesians 4:30; Psalms 51:10, 12; Psalms 32:3, 4; 2 Samuel 12:14; Luke 22:32, 61, 62)
Take note of a few things here. First, people must endure until the end as evidence of their salvation. Second, they cannot and do not endure until the end of their own power—it’s fully and wholly a work of the Holy Spirit (just like salvation is). Third, there are many who have gone through the motions of getting saved, but their hearts have not truly been submitted to following the Lord.
You see, salvation is not about getting people into Heaven. It’s not about behavior modification. It’s not about saying a prayer and never changing one’s life. These are very shallow and quite unbiblical views of salvation.
- Romans 12:1-2 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Salvation is becoming a submissive worshipper of the God of the universe by giving up the idols of self-worshipping sin and accepting Jesus as one’s Lord and Master by faith in Who He is and what He has done.
Now, that’s a far cry from how I was raised to view salvation. I would see people who looked and lived like any other person, often engaged in grievous sins, sometimes rarely coming to church, and having no interest in deeper spiritual things. Yet, we were to accept that they were saved because they had said a prayer.
So, one Sunday back in the 90s we had a special speaker come to my church. He was amazed and thankful that as he was coming in meeting people that someone challenged him on his salvation. He commended that person for not assuming that he was saved and for verifying it. I’ve seen others get offended when asked such a question, but when you or I are challenged on our salvation, we should be excited that someone asked, and we should boldly proclaim that we have placed our saving faith in Christ.
Yet, there are definitely two types of “Christians” that we need to challenge:
One—the professing Christian who doesn’t live like Christ, who doesn’t understand the Bible or even long for deeper spiritual things, who doesn’t care about the lost, and so forth. He may be a professor but not a possessor. He may look like a Christian, wear a HE>I T-shirt, have a fish sticker on the back of his car, listen to K-Love, and so forth, but his life does not look like Jesus’.
Two—yourself. We must each guard ourselves from complacency or arrogance when it comes to salvation. I have seen too many start the race well but not finish:
- Corinthians 13:5 Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?
- James 1:23-25 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was.
- Corinthians 9:27 but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.
So, while on one hand we want to have the full assurance and security of our salvation that the Bible promises us, on the other hand we don’t want to slouch in our Christian journey and neglect the battle before us.
Do you remember Sam Kinison? If he were alive today, he would be 67. He was born into the family of a Pentecostal preacher. He himself became a Pentecostal preacher for 7 years, but after his first divorce, he moved into standup comedy. His comedy routine was vulgar, often attacking Christianity, joking about necromania, and even doing a lewd dance with Jessica Hahn (if you remember, she was the one Jim Bakker had an affair with). He was a cocaine addict and alcoholic, married three times but had relations with others on the side. He was killed in 1992 in a car wreck after being hit by a drunk driver, and after he died, Ozzy Osbourne commented that he believed Kinison is in Heaven next to God. Contrary to Osbourne’s belief, a person who may have made a profession of faith as a young man but lived like the Devil is not, according to Scripture, in eternity in the presence of God.
- Hebrews 2:1 For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it.
- Why do you think the New Testament continually warns us to inspect our lives to ensure we are saved? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
- On one hand the Christian is not perfect yet, but on the other hand, the Christian should see the evidence of change in his life. Looking at this verse (and feel free to cross-reference with other verses), what are some of the evidences that should be continually seen in a believer’s life demonstrating he is “in Christ”? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- So, if these should be seen but are not, what do you think that means? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________
- There are many false messages floating around in Christendom today, so getting the Gospel right is paramount.
- If you see someone whose life does not seem to be growing, and does not seem to emulate Christ, what could you say to that person that will lovingly guide him to evaluate his salvation and walk? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- Why is saying a prayer not the same thing as salvation? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________
Trust in God and Persevere Hymn written anonymously, approximately 1888
1 Christian, is life’s morning clouded, Has thy sunlight ceas’d to shine?
Is the earth in darkness shrouded, Would’st though at thy lot repine?
Look above thee, let thy vision Catch the light of hope, so near;
Soon will come the next transition; “Trust in God and persevere.”
“Trust in God and persevere,”
“Trust in God and persevere,”
Would you gain the bright forever, far beyond the rolling river?
You must now, henceforth and ever
“Trust in God and persevere.”
2 Christian, has life’s hope receded, Hast though sought its joys in vain?
Friends prov’d false when mostly needed, Foes rejoicing at thy pain?
Cheer up, Christian there’s a blessing Waiting for thee, never fear;
Foes forgiving, sins confessing, “Trust in God and persevere.”
3 Christian, there’s a quiet slumber Waiting for thee in the grave;
Christian, there’s a glorious number Christ, in mercy, deigns to save,
Wait, then, till life’s quiet even Closes round thee, calm and clear;
And till call’d from earth to heaven, “Trust in God and persevere.”