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April 13, 2014

L. John Bost
L. John Bost
Last week: What Is Jesus Saying In John 3:16?
Jesus says in John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Jesus says that God loved the world so much that He gave His only begotten son so that all who believe should have everlasting life. But, is Jesus saying that everlasting life is in one's possession the moment he believes, and he can never lose it, or, is everlasting life something one can only possess after this life, and he must remain faithful in order to obtain it?
As we noted in the previous article, What Is Jesus Saying In John 3:16?, the verse before us does not teach all that one must do to be saved, but merely states the purpose for which God sent His Son - to make eternal life possible for those who believe. That being the case, is He teaching that eternal life is in one's possession immediately upon believing, or, must one read elsewhere in the scripture to learn the answer to that question?
The apostles and other New Testament writers have much to say on this vital topic. What they write is true and authoritative, and is perfectly in harmony with what He says. After all, Jesus tells the apostles in John 16:13, "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth..." What do they, and other inspired writers, say about when one obtains salvation?
The Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 9:27, "But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway." The word, castaway, from the Greek, means, "Unapproved, that is, rejected; by implication worthless" (Thayer). According to Vine, the Greek word translated, "keep under," means, "To strike under the eye...hence, to beat the face black and blue (to give a black eye), is used metaphorically... of Paul's suppressive treatment of his body, in order to keep himself spiritually fit."Paul wrote more of the New Testament books than any other writer (12). He endured more persecution and hardship for his service to the Lord than any other recorded in the New Testament. Yet, even he was concerned about being "rejected!" He warns in Hebrews 10:26-27, "For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries."
James writes in James 5:19-20, "Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins." Note that James says that the death of the soul will occur if an erring brother is not converted from "the error of his way!" Please read James 4:4-10. Here, James teaches that continued friendship with the world makes the Christian the enemy of God. There will be no enemies of God in heaven! (See also 1 John 2:15-16).
Peter writes of the erring Christian, "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" 2 Peter 2:20. He says in 2 Peter 2:21, "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." He illustrates this with the proverb, "The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire" (2 Peter 2:21).
John writes in 1 John 2:24, "If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father. Note the "if." John warns in 2 John 9, "Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son." Can one be saved eternally if he has not the Father and the son?
In Jude 1:5-21, Jude reminds his readers that the Lord saved His people out of Egypt, and afterwards destroyed those who disobeyed. Angels are reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment. Sodom and Gomorrah suffered the vengeance of eternal fire. Some among them were following the disobedient ways of self-righteous Cane, greedy Balaam , and presumptuous Korah. Having mentioned these, Jude exhorts them, and us, "Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life." Notice that he says eternal life is something to "look for," not something already in possession. (Paul refers to it as the "hope of eternal life" - Titus 1:2; Titus 3:7).
Do these inspired writers contradict our Lord? Of course not! Rather, they serve as an inspired explanation of what Jesus is saying in John 3:16. They tell us that the eternal life that Jesus promises in John 3:16 will only be obtained by those who "abide (remain) in the doctrine of Christ."
In Matthew 25:31-46 Jesus contrasts those who will hear Him say, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world," and "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matthew 25:34; Matthew 25:41). Those who fed the hungry gave drink to the thirsty, etc. heard the former, those who did not heard the latter. Jesus concludes, "And these shall go away into everlasting punishment but the righteous into life eternal" (Matthew 25:46). So, Jesus does not, in John 3:16, or anywhere else, promise us that one comes into possession of eternal life at the moment he believes and, therefore, can never so sin as to be lost.

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