On Salvation – Once Held, Never Lost

Among Arminians there is this notion that men can “fall away” – that is that once a person is saved they can, somehow, lose their salvation, if they choose to walk away from God (Whether one “choosing to walk away from God” is how all Arminians see this issue of how losing salvation is brought about, I know not; this is merely how it has been explained to me by them). And while they’ve been able to at least somewhat articulate their belief, not once have they ever quoted scripture to me concerning this matter; regardless, I wish to dive into this matter and really explore this matter without labels i.e. I do not intent to say, “I’m a Calvinist therefore Perseverance of The Saints,” because while that is true (I am a Calvinist’s Calvinist and adhere to all the Doctrines of Grace) I don’t wish to give the typical response. I wish to give everyone who reads this a (possibly) new perspective on this issue that I myself just came to the realization of. Now with that said that does not mean I will not use “proof-texts” such as John 10:27-29, on the contrary I will examine the scriptures that uphold the biblical truth concerning salvation. But enough introductory words, let’s get into this topic.

Now some may say that it is possible to fall away, to lose their salvation. They say this because they see people who seem to be followers of Christ, who go to church, who know scripture, and then go off to college and come back an atheist. Or who fall into certain life styles and such. And these real-life examples are what they generally use – as I stated earlier, I have not once been quoted scripture in favor of this Arminian notion – to support their position. And while these “real-life” examples may seem hard to argue against I must remind us all that scripture trumps all life experiences that we may have; I would further remind people reading this that taking our own life experiences above the authority of scripture leads to one end: believing a lie, whether that lie be free will, Catholicism, atheism, agnosticism, or relativism, or any other lie. So while those “real-life” experiences may seem to be over scripture I call you all to remember that it is not “scripture” but rather “Scripture”. This is the very word of the sovereign God, and therefore what it says overrides whatever we’d like to think about anything. Now this notion of people losing their salvation: what does this whole issue rest upon? Many will point to the sovereignty of God in salvation, and they are right, the sovereignty of God in salvation is part of this whole controversy, but I’d wish to call your attention to the very core of salvation: atonement. Truly this is the core of salvation: for only with the atonement of Christ there is salvation, but without the atonement of Christ there is absolutely no salvation. And because of that fact, the losing of salvation heavily relates to atonement. So let’s look at atonement.
How are we justified in God’s sight? Through what is atonement accomplished? Divine scripture is very clear on this: 
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. – Romans 3:23-26
Here Paul says that we are “justified by his grace as a gift,” through what? “Through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.” We see clearly that through Christ we are justified, by his redemption which is a propitiation of his blood, not by works or anything that we do, as the apostle more clearly states: “20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes the knowledge of sin.” (Romans 3:20). Very clearly it is not by our works, but by grace as he says in another place: “8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Thus it is not our own righteousness that saves us, and why is that? Well quite simply, because our “good works” are like filthy rags before the eyes of a holy God. 
So then if not by our own righteousness, then by who’s righteousness are we justified before God? We know they by faith we are justified, but by faith in what? Faith in a guy who died on a cross? No there’s more to it than that. You see as scripture says, God will not justify the guilty (“keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” – Exodus 34:7) so therefore there must some sort of transferring of righteousness between two parties to make us righteous in the sight of God. We have faith upon Christ to supply that righteousness that is given to us through faith as the prophet says:
1 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. 2 And the LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” 3 Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. 4 And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.” 5 And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD was standing by. – Zechariah 3:1-5

We are Joshua in this passage, and the clean robes that we (those that are in Christ) wear are not our own but they were given to us. And the wee given to us from Christ, and he took our filthy clothes and bore the punishment that is rightfully ours for us, as it is written: 4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:4-5). 

Clearly we see that Christ’s death, His holy life, and his resurrection are the things that justify us. Now you are probably asking yourself, “What does this have to do with whether or not one can lose their salvation?” But consider, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, what the implications of Christ’s righteousness, Christ’s death and resurrection, being the thing that justifies you is. Consider these questions: if it is by the righteousness of Christ and by the punishment that He endured for us, how then can we lose our salvation? If we can lose our salvation by anything that we do, that would mean that we can make the righteousness of Christ and the payment of Christ on our behalf defective. Tell me, o man, how can we make Christ’s righteousness unrighteous? How can we nullify what He has done? Does not Paul say, “3 What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? 4 By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, “That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.” ” (Romans 3:3-4)? If God is true even thought every man be a liar, then must not Christ be righteous though every man is a sinner? 
As you can see, nothing we can do will ever make the righteousness of Christ any less righteous than it is, how then can we lose our salvation if it is based on Christ’s righteousness, which we cannot affect? We cannot affect Christ’s righteousness, therefore we cannot affect what our salvation rests upon, therefore we cannot affect our salvation. 
And that is why Calvinists say: If saved, always saved. Why? Because how can we make the righteousness that saves us, which isn’t ours but Christ’s, unrighteous? Simply we cannot do that, it is literally impossible. 
And furthermore, Christ says:
27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. – John 10:27-29
When Christ says that “no one will snatch them out of my hand” he mean it. “No one” means no one, nobody, no one! When he says that “no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand,” it means NO ONE has the power, the ability, to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. And if no one means no one, then that includes the sheep, the redeemed. Therefore it is impossible for us to lose our salvation. 
Once held, never lost.
Blessings to all my brothers and sisters in the faith,

Michael Hall

On Salvation – Once Held, Never Lost

On the Sovereignty of God

Today we’re going to look at one of the key pillars of Reformed Theology, as well as one of the key pillars of Biblical Christianity and that pillar is the sovereignty of God. This pillar has been reduced to a mere stuble, if you will, in the eyes of modern day Christianiry. It’s a doctrine that’s been abused, diminished, and even flat-out rejected. It’s a doctrine that has been controversial in recent times. And today we’re going to discuss it; we’re also going to be looking at the biblical aspect of it; namely, what is the sovereignty of God, according to scripture? Is there any limitations to that sovereignty that God posses? And if so, where are those limitations set? And even, is God sovereign? These are some of the questions I wil atempt to answer today. And I hope that it edifices you, and that you learn something new about God; and if it’s just an overview of what you’ve already learned than I hope it will bring some things back to your memory that perhaps you may have forgotten. Let’s get started and, as always with me, you will need your Bible for this.

In this day in age, many professing Christians do not truly believe in the absolute sovereignty of God; the idea that some one is in control of every aspect and event in their life is irritating, if not infuriating to some; the idea that there is someone who can “violate their free will” is often maddening to some. But what is sovereignty? Charles Hodge once wrote this in his Systematic Theology, “Sovereignty is not a property of divine nature, but a prerogative arising out of the perfections of the Supreme Being.” So then sovereignty is not a characteristic like omnipotence, which stands on its own; no, sovereignty rests upon the perfect perfections of God, so before we deal with the actual sovereignty of God, we must first deal with this question: is God perfect?

Of course any Christian’s natural response is, “Of course!” but I do not want to rely on all of you giving that response, so look at Deuteronomy 32:4.

4 “The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are just. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright in love.” – Deuteronomy 32:4

Here Moses is declaring that “all his ways are just” and that he is “without iniquity” and finally, “his work is perfect“. So then by this one verse we see that yes, God is perfect. But I’d like to go a little deeper, when we say that God is perfect that means Hos love is a perfect love; His power is a perfect power; His holiness is a perfect holiness. It means that everything about God is perfect. 

And now we must answer yet another questuon: can God be perfect and not also be sovereign? I give an emphatic: NO! For if God is perfect that must mean that He has perfect wisdom, perfect goodness, and perfect power; if you combine those with the right of ownership(which belongs to God alone, as it is written: “I made the earth and created man on it; it was my hands that stretched out the heavens, and I have commanded all their host.”), and then with all those invested in one Being, that Being [God] has not only the ability but also the right of being totally sovereign. Charles Hodge also wrote this in his Systematic Theology, “If God be a Spirit, and therefore a person, infinite, eternal, and immutable in his being and perfections, the Creator and Perserver of the universe, He is of right it’s absolute sovereign.” which is true and the “immutable foundation of His dominion”, as Charles Hodge put it, is his perfect wisom, goodness, and power combined with the right of ownership. Thus, in the light of all that, God has not only the perfect ability to be sovereign, but also the perfect right to be sovereign. And who are we, mere humans who cannot even add one minute to our life, to mentally try and rob God of that right and ability? Just who do we think we are?

But if there are any reading who still doubt the sovereignty of God I wish to call them to the logical implications that occur if God is not sovereign: If God is not sovereign, how then could we (the believers) have any hope that any promise of God will be kept? For if God is not sovereign, then His promises would, at the end of the day, have the same dignity and reliability as that of a promise of man, in the sense that we do not know for sure without any doubt that we will be able to actually carry out that promise despite anything that may occur. And why is that? Simply because we are not sovereign, because we are not perfect; we also have no power, in and of ourselves, to control the world, other people, or anything else in the way that God does, for the Psalmist declares, “Our God is in the heavens , he does all that he pleases.”; after all not only do we not have any power, in and of ourselves, but we cannot even save ourselves from the slavery if sin and even if we could save ourselves from the slavery of sin, we still couldn’t do all that we please; how then can we exalt ourselves so high, and drag God down so low? And also consider, in the creation account when God commanded the darkness saying,”Let there be light.” And then out of the darkness there was light, with no sun, moon, or stars, for they were created on the fourth day (Genesis 1:14-19), but the commanding of light to come into existence, in the absence of sub, moon, or stars, was uttered on the firs day (Genesis 1:1-5). And while virtually all Christians will accept the clear truth of scripture concerning the Creation acclunt, which is that God created the universe and everything contained therein, many will not accept the logical and necessary implications of the power that is clearly displayed in the creation account: for God to create Ex Nihilo (Latin for “out of nothing”), it naturally follows that out of His perfect, an nearly incomprehensible, power flows forth sovereignty. 

But just think: what if God is not sovereign? That would mean that God could not guarentee that His promises will come to pass despite anything that may occur; how then could we have any genuine and sure trust in Him? If Christ’s words: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life and they will never perish, and no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who gave them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand” are a promise and God is not sovereign and therefore not able to bring it to pass without chance of failure, then, tell me, what hope do we have? None! J.C. Ryle once said, “Take away the cross of Christ, and the Bible is a dark book.” which is extremely true, but I say: “Take away the sovereignty of God, and Christianity becomes a hopeless, and therefore worthless, faith.” Without a sovereign God there is no guarantee of anything good, without a sovereign God all we could ever have is doubt. And also consider this: if God is not able to sovereignly bring to pass any and every promise that He makes, this not only robs Him of His majesty, but this also calls into question the general principle characteristics of God; for if God makes us these promises and presents them to us as absolutes, while fully knowing that they are not absolutes, and therefore subject to chance or circumstance, does that not make God a liar? And if not a liar, does that not still call into question His goodness in general?

That is what the logical implications are if God is not sovereign, and truthfully they are terrifying, but thank God that our God is a sovereign God, and that His sovereignty is His forever, regardless of what mortal man says.

However, now that we’ve dispensed with the logical implications that occur if God is not sovereign, let us turn to the scriptures and see what they say concerning His sovereignty: by now, I hope that by now none are opposed to the idea of the sovereignty of God, now that we see the effects that come to be if He is not sovereign; in fact, I expect most to be hoping for scripture to support the sovereignty of God boldly, since the alternative leaves us hopeless.

Firstly, I’d like to be establish the God’s ownership, since out if His ownership comes His sovereignty.

1 The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, – Psalm 24:1

Here the psalmist is not putting any limits on God’s ownership in away way, in fact, he’s doing quite the opposite: he’s presenting God’s ownership a never ending, all encompassing. He says that “the fullness thereof” is the LORD’s. Under that one word “fullness” is included all the riches that the earth is adorned with. Even we are, in one way or another, belonging to God as the psalmist says, “the world and those who dwell therein”; I do not see any limitations being placed on God’s ownership of this world and what it contains, after all does He not say through His prophet Isaiah, “I made the earth and created man in it; it was my hands that stretched out the heavens and I command all of their host.” (Isaiah 45:12)? If God has made the world and everything therein, then by right, God is the owner of literally everything.
Now, in light of His all encompassing ownership, we cannot say, “It’s not fair that God allows this to happen!” Or “It isn’t fair that God controls everything!” Or “It isn’t fair that Hod predestines salvation to some and not others!” But yet, people – even Christians – do say things like that, and when we bring up such statements we must never forget how in the parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard – which is found in Matthew 20:1-16 – how they owner of the vineyard, the character of the parable that represents God, says to some of His Laborers, “Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?” You see, we owe God for every breath that we take, and the moment we say to God, “That’s not fair!” we forget His graciousness in that He freely chooses to sustain our existence, when He is absolutely not required to. And not only that but we forget that all on earth and in heaven belongs to Him.

So now that we’ve established ownership, and thus the right of God to be sovereign, let us see to what degree does God exercise His divine right:

3 Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases. 

                          – Psalm 115:3

Firstly, we see God’s divinity described by this verse (“Our God is in the heavens;”); then secondly, we see to the degree that God exercises His divine right: “he does all that he pleases”. Note that it does not say, “some of what he pleases” or “most of what he pleases”;no, it says, “all that he pleases”. “All” encompasses everything; every thing that Godj wishes to do, He does, according to the psalmist. 
Next let us look at Daniel 4:35.

35 all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?                    

                          – Daniel 4:35

Here I think it is imperative that we take into consideration just who is actually saying these words. And if we look at verse thirty-four if this chapter in Daniel, we see that it is not Daniel speaking here but rather King Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Neo-Babylon, a heathen king; and even this heathen king knew and proclaimed God’s absolute truth concerning God’s absolute sovereignty. And if a heathen king can know and declare God’s absolute sovereignty, then why is it something that is questioned, lessened, attacked, slandered, and degraded? That question I leave to you to meditate on but let’s look closely at what Nebuchadnezzar says: “and he does according to his will among the hosts of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth;”, not ice how he does not say “he does according to others’ will”; no, he says, “he does according to his will”, but among what? “Among the hosts of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth;”, now what does that leave outside of God’a control? If He does what His will is in heaven and on earth, then what is left outside of God’s sovereign hand? Quite obviously nothing is! Furthermore, he says, “and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?” ” None can stay his hand, none can stop God from doing what He wills. And none have the right to question him saying, “What have you done?”; after all, who are we? Mere men who cannot count the hairs on our head, and mere men who cannot add one second to his life than what God has sovereignty determined Him to have. Thus we see a pagan king acknowledging the absolute, all encompassing sovereignty of God with boldness. 

Next let us look at Ephesians 1:11.

11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, – Ephesians 1:11

Generally this verse is used as a proof text to support predestination – which it does and also predestination has been called by many theologians one of the most magnificent example of God’s sovereignty at work – but today I’d like to call your attention primarily to the phrase: “of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,” here Paul does not put any limitations on God’s sovereignty but declares it to be over “all things”, here Paul is even more clear and blatant than King Nebuchadnezzar is in Daniel 4:35; and also notice how Paul does not say “orders all things” or “commissions all things” but rather says “works all things”, here Paul is saying that in His sovereignty, God is a working God, He is an active God, not a stale, unmoving God. After all scripture says concerning Him, “But the LORD is the true God; he is the living God and everlasting King.” (Jeremiah 10:10a), and a living God is active, not one who sits lazily in the heavens amusing Himself by tossing our destinies around aimlessly and without purpose; rather, on the contrary! God is a living God, a working God, who has a purpose for all of His actions, as Paul declares, “having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.” Now according to that one verse, God’s actions have purpose and therefore are not arbitrary or based on the throwing of a dice but on actual purpose which is “according to the counsel of his will” not according to just anyone’s will, but His will, according to the will of the God of the universe! And now are we seriously going to question the validity of the God of the universe’s actions? As God questioned Job: “Where you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me if you have understanding” (Job 38:4). 

Lastly let us look at Romans 11:36.

36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. – Romans 11:36

Here Paul declares that all things are from God, through God, and to God; the end result of those three explicit things is total sovereignty, for if all things are “from him, through him, and to him” the what limit is set on His authority and power? What limit is set on His right to be sovereign? What limit is set on His exercising of that divine right? None, there are no limits with God, for Christ Himself says, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you.” (Mark 14:36), and when Christ said “all things”, believe me, He meant it! Indeed, because Christ says that we clearly see, especially in light of Romans 11:36, that there is no limit set on God’s ability to work all things according to the purpose of His will. 
And if there are any who still doubt the sovereignty of God, I leave them to wrestle with Paul’s words:

13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, 14 to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which he will display at the proper time-he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen. – 1 Timothy 6:13-16

However, for those of us who are convinced – by scripture – of the sovereignty of God, we see that this sovereignty is 1.) over all things, the sovereignty is controlling everything thing that ever has happened and everything that ever happens; 2.) it is His absolute right, and therefore we have no right to question God’s doings or God’s reasons, He says to Job, “Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be in the right?” (Job 40:8); and 3.) it is a just, righteous, and holy sovereignty, not random, not sadistic, not evil, but good, and just, and righteous, and holy sovereignty. 

Now, with the first point above – and also the third point – the question will immediately come from someone: if God is sovereign – and that sovereignty is good, just, righteous, and holy – how then can evil exist? And to be honest it is a good question, it’s been named, over time, the ‘Problem of Evil’. But I have found it has a rather simple answer, which comes in a question: why does God have to make this world perfect for you when all people do is sin against Him? God is not required to make everything perfect for your life, in fact you make you’re own life not perfect – and therefore the world – by your sin. God doesn’t control you like a robot, you have a will – which is in slavery to sin, but it is still there – and your will is to sin, and if everyone sins then you have events such as the Holocaust, legalization of abortion. We – humans – cause the evil to exist by our own actions, and God simply is allowing us to follow the passions of our flesh, which is entirely sinful. Now, would we so misrepresent God by blaming Him for the consequences of our own actions? Would we try to get out of our guilt and place it on to the holy God? Would we condemn God that we may be found in the right? How dare we! How dare we even consider that God is responsible for our sin; no, we are the party that is responsible, not God. So do not blame God for mankind’s sinfulness; no, blame mankind. 

Now, there are a few issues in which the sovereignty of God has been abused, which I feel that it is absolutely necessary that we deal with them:  

1. Some forsake the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) because of God’s sovereignty; they say, “Because God is sovereign I don’t need to proclaim the gospel to others.” This is heresy and apostasy, plain and simple. Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God commands you to proclaim the gospel to the world and you say, “No, that’s not necessary because you are sovereign, Jesus.” You foolish people! Do you not see that by forsaking the commandment of Christ you prove yourself not to love Him? For Christ says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15), and therefore by not keeping His commandments you prove to all that you do not truly love Christ, for if He gave so much for your own salvation and if He truly is the Lord of your life, doesn’t He then have the absolute right to command you? And that you then must obey His commandments? You see many miss the point when it comes to God’s sovereignty and how it relates to proclaiming the gospel. You see God has sovereignly determined the end, but but He has also sovereignly declared the means to that end! And by His word, we see that proclaiming the biblical – and therefore true – gospel is His sovereignly declared means to His desired end:

19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. – Matthew 28:19-20
This is not an optional thing; this is not a request; this is a command from Christ Himself! You can’t say, “No, that’s not really necessary.” because here Christ is saying, “Oh, I say that it is necessary, and if you love me you will obey me!” We are in no position to say that it isn’t required to obey the Great Commission, we are only in a position to obey it! And on a side note, if you are truly saved you will not be able to not keep the Great Commission! If you are truly saved you will shine as lights in the darkness. 

2. Some say that because God is sovereign that therefore they cannot lose their salvation (which is true, I assure you of that), but then they take that as an excuse to live however they want, since that they cannot lose their salvation.this is not Christianity; in fact, this is ANTI-Christ, against everything Christ stood for, for after healing some does he not say, “Sin no more,” (John 5:14; 8:11)?

Firstly, if one does not have a heartbroken remorse over their sin, I question whether they are truly saved, and that relates to this in this way: how can one have a true heartbroken remorse, then later make an excuse for their sin? Truly, if they have true heartbroken remorse for their sin, they will not make excuses for it. Furthermore, before one can say, “I can’t lose it, so I can live however I want,” that same must make sure their calling as the apostle Peter says, “Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.” (2 Peter 1:10). And even once you’re calling is confirmed and sure, even then you cannot live however you wish – by this it is generally meant that one can live in sin – for the apostle Paul declares, “19.) Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20.) for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). But let us examine a more explicit text on this subject.

1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. – Romans 6:1-4
In this passage the apostle Paul is telling us by no means, how dare we even think, that we may continue in sin while being in the body of Christ, for he says that we have died to sin, just as also says, “We know that the old self was crucified with him in order that the body be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.” (Romans 6:6), and with the reality of our death to sin, Paul asks, “How can we who died to sin still live in it?” (Romans 6:2), which is a rhetorical question: it is simply impossible to be dead to something and yet still live in it, we must be either dead to sin and alive to God, or alive to sin and dead to God; there are no other options, for does not Christ say, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” (Matthew 6:24)? And we knew that everyone who commits a “sin is a slave to sin” (John 8:34), how then can we live in sin, which is to be its slave, and at the same time live in the Father, Christ, and the Holy Spirit, which is to be their servant? Truly, we cannot do such a thing, it is impossible. Thus the sovereignty of God exercised in holding you in His hand (John 10:27-29) is not to make an excuse for living sinfully but to provide assure and this increase our sanctification, for Paul the apostle says, “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” (Galatians 5:13). The apostle Peter also says concerning this, “Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.” (1 Peter 2:16). 
Now I must clarify this, lest any unnecessarily question their salvation: living in sin and sinning are two different things. Living in sin is being enslaved by it, and controlled by it, living in it and – usually – enjoying it; sinning is sinning, falling short of the glory of God, but yet at the same time taking no pleasure from our sin, but being heartbroken over it, feeling guilt over it, and wishing that we had never committed it. The first (living in sin) – I am convinced – is a mark of a false declaration of sin; the second is a mark of a regenerate person for how can a spiritually dead man feel the weight of sin? Indeed, he cannot. Thus there is a difference between living in sin and sinning.
Now, I am sure that there are many, many other ways which the sovereignty of God could be abused but these are the two most common – at least to my knowledge – however, there still remains a very important question: how should we respond to the sovereignty of God? I once had an atheist say to me how I “always had to have Daddy upstairs watching over me”, he meant it as an insult to me, but it’s true: I have a God looking out for me at all times, a God who is both just and loving, both holy and merciful, a God who gave much for the salvation of men, as Paul says, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all,” (Romans 8:32), that’s the kind of love that God loves us (the elect) with, a perfect love, now we not only have a sovereign God but a loving God who is sovereign, a merciful God who is sovereign, a holy God who is sovereign, a compassionate God who is sovereign. So how should we respond? With joy! Why should we have despair as God’s elect because of His sovereignty? There is no reason to have any reaction to God’s sovereignty that isn’t one of joy, comfort, and utter peace if you are one of His elect.
Now may the true peace be given to all my brothers and sisters in Christ,

Michael Hall 

On the Sovereignty of God

On Sin – First Enslaved, Then Freed

Previously, I touched on how sin scars the conscience and makes us heavy with guilt. Today, I wish to look at man in two states in relation to sin: before Christ and after Christ. And knowing where we were before Christ is very important, for how can you be truly grateful for God’s mercy and love in salvation if you don’t know what you were saved from? Thus, knowledge of man’s state pre-regeneration is important, and does play into you’re Christian walk.

So, what was man like in relation to sin before Christ?

Now many verses speak to the all encompassing depravity of man (also know as Total Depravity/Radical Depravity), such as the following: ‘as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” ‘ (Romans 3:10-12); “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.” (John 3:19-20) but why cannot man simply by his will shake off sin and live righteously? Why not?

Well, the harsh reality is simply this:


Man is in bondage to sin, as our Lord says:

Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.”     – John 8:32

     But what does Jesus mean when he says “a slave to sin”? Is he signifying that even as slaves we are able to revolt against sin and overthrow it’s hold over us? No, rather quite the opposite: in the Greek the word for ‘slave’ is δοῦλός (doúlos) which means: someone who belongs to another; a bond-slave, without any ownership rights of their own;completely controlled. This is not speaking of a person who’s will is on fire for freedom, but a person whose will is completely subjected, and even enjoys it’s subjection as Christ Himself says, “”And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.” (John 3:19). Man kind loves sin; he does not love darkness more than light, but “rather than light” meaning “instead of” or “in place of”. Man’s love of darkness is not simply more than his love of light, but rather his love is wholly for darkness, for Christ again says, “For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.” (John 3:20). Jesus doesn’t say “everyone who does wicked things loves the darkness more than the light”; no, He says “everyone who does wicked things hates the light”! So not only is man totally, completely, and entirely controlled by sin, but he also loves what he is controlled by – that being sin. 

     Paul also declares this:

For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.
– Romans 6:20

     Here Paul is inferring that the believers who he is writing to were at one time “slaves of sin”, and when they were slaves they were  “free in regard to righteousness”. Truly, it is universal truth that we all were slaves to sin before we came – or really were drawn by the Father (John 6:44) – to Christ.

     Again Paul boldly points out:

But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin…   – Galatians 3:22a

     Here Paul declares that scripture declares that “the whole world is a prisoner of sin”! Sin, according to this verse, is our jailer and we are in the jail cell that is tightly locked and secured. We have no hope of escaping by any might, will, or determination that we posses; and furthermore, not only is our jail cell tightly locked and in every way secured so that it is inescapable, but it is furnished! It is comfortable and enjoyable for us; we, by nature, love our jail cell and our jailer.

     So then, what are we, in relation to sin, after Christ? Still enslaved or free? Scripture declares us free!


But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.  – Romans 6:22

     Here the Apostle insists that we have been “set free from sin” and are now “slaves of God”. One may scoff and say, “For what good is it to trade one slavery for another?” But I answer him, “For which is better, to be a slave to sin and the fruits of that slavery to be death or to be a slave to God and the fruits of that slavery is eternal life? Furthermore, if one is a slave to sin, he is also, by logical implication, a slave to the devil, who is wholly evil and wicked to no end. I would rather be a slave to a kind Master, who gave His own Son that I might be set free from my former master.” This being “slaves of God” is not a bad thing, for we have a kind, merciful, and loving Master, who cares for us, and wants whats best for us, despite the many times we have wronged Him. We have a Master who loves us unconditionally.

     And Christ Himself, in the reading of the prophet Isaiah says thus:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”    – Luke 4:18

     Notice the phrases such as “to set at liberty those who are oppressed” or “to proclaim liberty to the captives” or “recovering of sight to the blind”, who is the oppressed or the captives, or the blind in these instances? Us! Here Christ is saying that He has come to set us at liberty from our oppression! Truly that is the greatest promise of Christ: that through Him we are freed!

     But, our freedom is not an excuse to sin, for Paul writes:

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.      – Romans 6:1-14

Here Paul is urging to get it through our thick skulls that we have died to sin, and therefore cannot continue to live in it! The whole point of Christ death, in relation to our enslavement to sin, was that “we would no longer be enslaved to sin”. Because our “old self was crucified with him” we are free from the enslavement to sin “for one who has died has been set free from sin”. Christ himself died a death so that he has “died to sin” and “the life he lives he lives to God”. And we too “must consider [ourselves] dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus”. Paul also says that we should not let sin reign in our mortal body, nor let it make us obey its passions. For we are to present ourselves to God, not in spiritual death, but rather in spiritual life and thus in righteousness and dead to sin.

Thus it is to be understood that we do have liberty in Christ, and apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5 – I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.) but this liberty in Christ, this freedom from sin because we are not under the law but under grace is not an excuse to live in sin nor to practice it, for Paul writes, For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” ‘ (Galatians 5:13-14) and Peter also says concerning this, “Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.” (1 Peter 2:16).

In closing I shall leave you some of the most comforting words of Christ I have ever read:

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

                          – John 8:36

On Sin – First Enslaved, Then Freed

On Guilt of Sin & The Conscience


     For me, I find the sins that I commit to be a literal scar upon my conscience, and the more I study God’s Word, the more I feel the damnation in sin itself, but yet I continue to do what I hate. And at times, it depresses me; at others, it infuriates me; but at the end of the day, I feel the weight of condemnation on my conscience by my sinful acts. For me there is no greater comfort than God’s Word so let us turn there together, my brothers and sisters in the faith.

For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. – Romans 7:15

     This perfectly describes my feelings about my sin. I do not understand why I do what I do, I hate these things I do with a righteous hatred (not that I am righteous in and of myself, but that my hatred is not a malicious hatred but a hatred of sin, a just hate, a righteous hatred), but yet I still do them, as if I desire to do them. But yet that desire is only momentary, lasting as long as the act, and after the act all I feel is shame and damnation, and yet another slash across my conscience; just as the Psalmist declares: “For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me.” (Psalm 38:4) and again: “For I am ready to fall, and my pain is ever before me. I confess my iniquity; I am sorry for my sin.” (Psalm 38:17-18). And that feeling of condemnation only increases when the cross is brought to the forefront of my mind’s eye. I don’t believe that anything can be more convicting than when one sins to have the cross immediately put before their eyes after their deed of wickedness is done.

     Let us see more of what Paul has to say:

So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. – Romans 7:17-20

     Here Paul exemplifies the struggle that I, and many, if not all, of my brothers and sisters in the faith are continually going through, this warring of two natures within us: the flesh, in which “nothing good dwells” and the reborn nature in which we have “the desire to do what is right”, but yet our flesh removes our “ability to carry it out” (“it” being the desire of the reborn nature). For what we wish is not what we do but the evil that we do not want to do. But here the comfort comes in verse twenty: “Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me”. Here the comfort is in a few things: firstly, that Paul, an Apostle of Christ Jesus, fought this same battle before us; secondly, that it is not us who do these things but our flesh, in which sin dwells. Not that we are not responsible for our sin – I assure you that we are accountable for every deed and word – but rather that the work that God has done in us [(making us alive in Christ Jesus and giving us a new heart and a new desire (Ephesians 2:1-10)] is not defective or somehow not true. The issue, as it appears to me in my life, is that we do not “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” enough, because we often forget that “it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure”.

     And as for the conscience of the believer whose sin is ever before him, Paul says to you:

Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised— who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. – Romans 8:33-34

     Who is to accuse us? If Christ has paid for our sin, then God “will be merciful toward [our] iniquities, and [He] will remember[our] sins no more” (Hebrews 8:12). And who is to condemn? Did not Christ bear our griefs and carried out sorrows? Was He not pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities? And hasn’t the Lord laid on Him the iniquity of us all? (Isaiah 53:4-6). If Christ has not only died but risen that we might be made righteous in the eyes of God, then how shall our sin make us any less His children? Not that we ought to live however we please, on the contrary, we are to live “in a manner worthy of the calling to which [we] have been called” (Ephesians 4:1), but Christ Himself declares that “no one will snatch [us] out of [His] hand” (John 10:28). And John also declares, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9). Let not our weaknesses make the cleansing work of Christ any less effective, but rather strive to live “worthy of the calling” but yet, at the same time, do not think that God will cast you out for your sin, for Christ Himself says, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” (John 6:37); the work of God will be done, and Christ will never cast out whoever that comes to Him.

And so, in closing I shall leave you all with this quote from the movie ‘Luther’, in which the actor that plays Martin Luther says these words which I find comfort in:

“So when the devil throws your sins in you face and declares that you deserve death and hell, tell him this: I admit that I deserve death and hell. What of it? For I know One who suffered and made satisfaction in my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, Son of God. Where He is, there I shall be also.”
– Martin Luther

Blessings to you, and remember the words of Christ: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:27).

Michael Hall

On Guilt of Sin & The Conscience

On Faith


     Faith, a word that we use so often, but do we ever stop to consider what it means, what faith looks like – in our own life and in others. Do we ever stop to ask the question: is my faith merely intellectual knowledge/agreement or is it genuine faith that is firmly rooted in out hearts? Or what does it look like for us to actually live by faith? And are we doing that? Do we “examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith” (2 Corinthians 13:5)?
Sadly, we often do not ask ourselves these kind of hard questions; in fact, we often skirt over a sober analysis of ourselves and whether our faith is genuine. But not today; today, I will, Lord willing, do a very sober analysis of what faith is, what does it look like in ones life – essentially everything about faith I shall try to deal with in this post.

Paul writes, “We live by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7), and again, “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:17). Here we are not only said to live by faith, but also commanded that we should live by faith. And in 2 Corinthians 13:5 (quoted earlier) we are instructed by the Apostle to examine ourselves to see whether we really are in the faith. Thus, it should naturally be understood that our understanding of what faith is, and what faith looks like, and everything else about faith, is of the up most importance. After all Paul writes, “For by grace you have been saved through faith.” (Ephesians 2:8a) which only further highlights the importance in faith, since it is through faith that we gain salvation.

First off, what is faith? What is our definition of faith? What does the scripture say faith is?

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.                                                                                                                            – Hebrews 11:1

Faith is not a hope, but rather an “assurance of things hoped for”; faith is not some uncertain thing, but a firm conviction. Faith is not an abstract concept, but a tangible thing. However faith is not mere intellectual agreement, as James writes, “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!” (James 2:19), rather faith is deeper than that it is real, and not only real but faith is an “assurance” and a “conviction”, but of what? What “things hoped for” does our faith act as a assurance of? Or what “things not seen” does our faith act as a conviction of? Well very simply, of the promises of God. Now one may scoff and say, “What good is a promise of things that have not been seen? What good is that?” I answer: the promises that we have faith in is not promises of men, who so often break their word, but of God, who has never in all eternity past, present, and future broken His word. We trust in not the finite beings that are so easily deceived, tricked, or killed, but in the infinite Being, who through His power and mercy has saved us from our own natures. We hope not in the sinful, but in the holy and perfect. We hope in God. We hope in θεὸς (God) not in ἄνθρωπος (mankind,man). You see trust in a promise does not stem from the promise itself but from the one who makes the promise. How much more will you trust the promise of an eternal just, good, loving, caring God over that of wicked, sinful, fallen man?

So what is faith? Faith is hope in God, no faith is sure trust in God; faith is assurance in God, as the apostle writes: “who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.” (1 Peter 1:21) and again: “so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:5). For of what value would our faith be were it to rest on the virtue and power of fallen man? What assurance would be in it? What trust or hope? Thus, faith – true faith – must rest on God, and on God alone. For if we put our faith and trust into man – fallen man – we will only have our trust and faith betrayed, but yet God will not betray our faith and trust, for Paul says, “What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means!” (Romans 9:14).

So we’ve established what faith is, and who our faith rests upon, but what does it mean to “live by faith” (Romans 1:17)?

Well, if our faith is in God, then living by faith is living in God and in what God desires for our lives. If we live in sin we are not living by faith but by fleshly desires; if we live in total conformity to the standards of the world, we are not living in faith but in the world. To live by faith is to follow the God whom you have put your trust; it is to act on your trust, to not just talk the talk but walk the walk. As the Apostle writes:

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.
– Hebrews 11:8

Here the faith of Abraham is not passive, but active. “By faith” he obeyed, not by intellectual understanding for the Apostle hastens to add: “And he went out, not knowing where he was going.” Not to say that our faith is blind or not useful but rather that faith – true, genuine faith – rests solely on God and not on our understanding; but yet, despite how Abraham did not know “where he was going” he still “went out” regardless of his “not knowing”. Faith isn’t knowledge or intellectual agreement, but trust and assurance. And not only that trust and assurance but action upon that trust and assurance. As James says, “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?” (James 2:14) and again, “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (James 2:17). Faith without action is dead and of no consequence, thus action upon faith must accompany faith. Not that we are saved by works, but rather that as James says, “I will show you my faith by my works.” (James 2:18c). You see, our faith must be an active faith; it cannot be a “I go to church on Sundays and that’s good enough”, for James says, “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (James 2:17) because true faith will not be without works, for true faith is not dead, but alive!

In conclusion, faith is not merely an intellectual understanding or agreement, but a thing of the heart, something that is important – vastly important- and rests on God alone. It is also not a passive thing, but an active thing that must be acted upon daily, so that we may “show…[our] faith by [our] works”.

Michael Hall

On Faith