Are the members of your family saved or are they working toward their salvation? The difference is crucial.
I recently received a letter from a dear sister who had read the article on eternal security “Saved! Saved Forever! Safe Forever! No Argument!” She had a problem with the admonitions from Jesus and the Apostle Paul about not interacting with those who argue about the path to salvation, as I had expected that many reading that article would.
Paul’s words did not advise us to pitch a fit or stomp away angrily, but merely to withdraw from them. That counsel reflects Godly wisdom and Paul’s long experience of arguments with many people in many settings.
This sister’s primary difficulty was accepting the fact that some of the members of her large, extended, religious family, which includes a Nazarene preacher, may in fact not be saved. I completely get that and have compassion for those facing such a dilemma.
As difficult as facing the harsh reality may be, I adhere to the line drawn by the writers of scripture. There is only one path to salvation. It isn’t a matter of opinion. We can debate when the Rapture might occur or the identity of the Antichrist with gusto and still walk together in harmony, but when it comes to salvation issues, there can be no compromise.
The first priority is to be led by God, and we can trust Him to direct us regarding who is seeking the truth and who is arguing because of their intransigence in clinging to a works theology.
Here is the response that I wrote to her:
Please, call me Jerry. I’m nobody special. Thank you so much for your kind, loving words and thoughtful letter. I loved reading it. I can see we are of the same heart; loving and serving the same Lord. I highly applaud the sacrifices I know you have made to homeschool your children. To do otherwise these days seems tantamount to turning them over to the enemy to teach and mold them.
I also applaud the fact that Jesus is the covering of your husband, and he is your covering in the Lord. When the love of God is present, such submission to authority is not oppressive, but a joy, and perfect protection from the assault of the enemy. Such joy is perfected as the partners submit to one another in the Lord.
I very much appreciate your feedback and please know that I will continue to pray about it and hold it before the Lord. The first priority in all things that we do is to be led by the Lord through the Holy Spirit, and this is never more important than in our interactions with others, whether they are in harmony with our beliefs or in opposition.
The Spirit will lead you, He will have to because only God can judge the heart. None of us is perfect in all of our beliefs when we come to the Lord. As Greg [Greg Lauer at alittlestrength.com] has stated, and as I have echoed, everyone is wrong about something. We can disagree about many things and walk together in harmony. But the one thing that is intolerable is a disagreement about the path to salvation.
There is only one path, and that is the very simple one of confessing that Jesus is Lord, and believing in your heart that God raised Him from the dead (Romans 10:9-10). Any requirement for works brings your performance into the equation, and that is always deadly. Take a look at this video that I believe does a very good job of illustrating what I’m talking about. You can search “Good-o-meter” on YouTube if the link doesn’t work.
If the Spirit shows you that someone has an openness to the Gospel of Grace, it doesn’t matter what comes out of their mouths short of blaspheming the Holy Spirit. You can continue to speak the truth to them in love. On the other hand, if the Spirit shows you that you are wasting your time on someone who just likes to argue and has rejected the wooing call of the Father to come to salvation, then, whether it’s a stranger or your dearest family member, you would do best to heed the counsel of the Lord and of the Apostle Paul in avoiding them.
They have not only failed to accept that wonderful gift of salvation as I said in the article, most of them have refused, and have become entrenched in their resistance to the wooing influence of the Father.
This will be a very hard message for you to hear, but look at what the Lord said:
“47 One said to him, “Behold, your mother and your brothers stand outside, seeking to speak to you.”
48 But he answered him who spoke to him, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” 49 He stretched out his hand toward his disciples, and said, “Behold, my mother and my brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of my Father who is in heaven, he is my brother, and sister, and mother.” Matt 12:47-50 WEB
Another thing. Probably not coincidentally, I just read through the book of James yesterday morning and was impressed in just how the words can be interpreted by the carnal mind without the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. What the religious heart sees as a list of requirements for salvation, those with eyes to see and ears to hear see as evidence of the power of God in sanctifying us. Our good works only come as the result of faith in God.
Our good works are the products of our faith and salvation, not the source of them. Look at this line: “5 But God’s love has most certainly been perfected in whoever keeps his word.” 1 John 2:5 WEB The religious heart sees this as a command to keep God’s word. The saved heart rejoices to see that their change of heart is evidence of the perfecting work of the Holy Spirit. It is a promise, not a command.
Some of the things I have written will be very hard for those with large religious families. By the Grace of God, I have already walked that path, and know the dangers and oppression that can come from such relationships. The family you describe is very much like the ones that my wife and I left behind; of necessity. She is one of six kids, I am one of five. We even have a bona fide Baptist minister in the extended mix. Most of them are not searching, they are settled in their beliefs.
In fact, most of them were handed religion as children, and never questioned it or tested it. Now, they are entrusting their eternal souls to it.
They have a form of godliness, but deny the saving power thereof. They do this by insisting that adherence to the law is a necessity for salvation. They will admit that there is a gap between their performance and the required perfection, but claim that is where grace comes in; to fill that gap. In doing this, they wrongly assume that their own good works are acceptable to God and meet the requirements for salvation.
Jesus is not religious calk who fills the gaps in our deficient righteousness, He is the sacrifice for all of our sin and our sins. He has taken them away. It is Jesus’ righteousness that the Father sees when He looks at us.
Though they profess love and righteousness, and put forth the image of a big loving family, the fruit of the Spirit is absent and the cancer of wickedness dwells not far below the surface. They are totally bereft of the true love that comes from God. [I was speaking of my family here, but it very likely applies to hers as well.]
I feel a closeness with you in the Spirit, and a compassion for the dilemma you face. The hard truth is that each of us will face the judgment if we are not completely covered by the blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Nothing short of that will spare us. Nothing. The good works of our flesh are as filthy rags and play no part in our salvation unless they are the ticket to eternal life that we are relying on. Then they will serve to condemn us.
Consider this: “21 Beloved, if our hearts don’t condemn us, we have boldness toward God; 22 so whatever we ask, we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do the things that are pleasing in his sight. 23 This is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, even as he commanded. 24 He who keeps his commandments remains in him, and he in him. By this we know that he remains in us, by the Spirit which he gave us.” 1 John 3:21-24 WEB (Emphasis and Italics added)
This passage gets to the heart of the issue that some of the epistles like James seem to be talking about when it comes to keeping the commandments. It isn’t works, it’s faith in Jesus Christ, and expressing His love through the power of the Spirit. It isn’t a matter of opinion, it’s the truth.
You will never be able to get a religious person to understand this in the Spirit unless they surrender their will to the Savior. You can literally argue with them until doomsday and they will continue to resist the freedom in Jesus that you are offering to them.
Time is running out. The Kingdom will not wait on these big religious families. Jesus is knocking on their door, and they must hear him knocking and open that door:
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, then I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with me. 21 He who overcomes, I will give to him to sit down with me on my throne, as I also overcame, and sat down with my Father on his throne.” Rev 3:20-21 WEB
I firmly stand behind the word written in that article. The admonitions to avoid interactions with those who insist on arguing about our salvation are not mine, but come from scripture and reflect the wisdom of God. They were spoken by our Lord, and written by someone that had trod that ground as a Pharisee of the Pharisees; the Apostle Paul. That guy knew how to argue. He knew what you are up against.
I would strongly recommend you read “Forsaking Families” from my website. Again I will add, be led by the Spirit. If the shoe fits, wear it, no matter how reluctantly. The religious spirit is a pernicious, malignant influence that creeps into your thinking without warning. Fellowship with those under its power will only result in confusion as they push buttons of conditioning that you carry from childhood.
In the parable of the wheat and the tares from Matthew 13, we see a field sown with plants that appear so similar and have roots that are so intertangled that separating them must await the harvest time. Even then, it requires the abilities of angelic harvesters to discern the difference. That is a picture of the true Church growing among the tares. I believe the harvest is very near, and already see signs that the tares are being bundled for burning.
Look to the Lord, and be prepared to turn loose of those who have rejected a love of the truth. I know something of the challenges you face, but it’s harvest time.
May the Lord richly bless you and your family. We can’t wait to meet you, dear sister,
In Christ, Jerry
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- Adapted (cropped) from #30408044/SeanPavonePhoto-adobe stock.com
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- Don’t Mess With Israel by Greg Lauer @alittlestrength.com