The Bible says in John 5:24: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”
Allow me to share with you some commentary on this passage from the Bible Knowledge Commentary by Dr. John F. Walvoord and Dr. Roy B. Zuck:
“Jesus’ unity with His Father is so complete that the honor of God is tied to Jesus. To reject or dishonor God the Son is to reject and dishonor God the Father. Since Jesus has the unity and divine prerogatives mentioned earlier in this chapter, to trust His message and His Father is to have in the present time eternal life. No judgment will come in the future (he will not be condemned because he has already passed from one realm — death — into another — life). Only once elsewhere (in 1 John 3:14) is the phrase “passed from death to life” used.”
Today’s quote is from Neil T. Anderson. He said: “The inner change, justification, is effected at the moment of salvation. The outer change in the believer’s daily walk, sanctification, continues throughout life. But the progressive work of sanctification is only fully effective when the radical, inner transformation of justification is realized and appropriated by faith.”
Our topic today is titled “Fruitful or Faithless? (Part 3)” from the book, “So Great Salvation: What it Means to Believe in Jesus Christ” by Dr. Charles Ryrie.
THE THEORY OF RELATIVITY
Those who hold to a lordship/discipleship/mastery salvation viewpoint do not (perhaps it would be more accurate to say “cannot”) send an unambiguous message about this matter. On the one hand, they say that the essence of saving faith is “unconditional surrender, a complete resignation of self and absolute submission.” True faith, we are told, “starts with humility and reaches fruition in obedience.” “Salvation is for those who are willing to forsake everything… Saving faith is a commitment to leave sin and follow Jesus Christ at all costs. Jesus takes no one unwilling to come on those terms.” Denying self is essential to salvation: “Eternal life brings immediate death to self… Forsaking oneself for Christ’s sake is not an optional step of discipleship subsequent to conversion; it is the sine qua non of saving faith.”
But what if I do not follow Christ at all costs? What if later on in life I become unwilling to forsake something? Suppose I lack full obedience? What if I take something back that earlier in my experience I had given to Him? How do I quantify the amount of fruit necessary to be sure I truly “believe” in the lordship/mastery sense of the term? Or how do I quantify the amount of defection that can be tolerated without wondering if I have saving faith or if I in fact lost what I formerly had?
The lordship response, in spite of its stringent demands on the nature of what the view calls saving faith, must either say that (1) a disobedient Christian loses his salvation or (2) some leeway exists for disobedience within the Christian life. Since many lordship people hold to the security of the believer, they opt for the latter.
So we read a statement like this: “A moment of failure does not invalidate a disciple’s credentials.” My immediate reaction to such a statement is to want to ask if two moments would. Or a week of defection, or a month, or a year. Would two years? How serious a failure and for how long before we must conclude that such a person was in fact not saved? Lordship teaching recognizes that “no one will obey perfectly,” but the crucial question is simply how imperfectly can one obey and yet be sure that he “believed” in the lordship/mastery salvation sense? If “salvation requires total transformation” and I do not meet that requirement, then am I not saved? Or if my transformation is less than total at any stage of my Christian life, was I not saved in the first place?
We will continue our discussion of the theory of relativity in our next broadcast / podcast.