Out Of The Labyrinth: Salvation The Difficult Questions

It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community….I could go on.

-Galatians 5:19-21 The Message

Paul Wrote A Letter to Me

Where was Paul when he wrote this letter? Who was he writing it to? Was it the people of the world, drug abusers, prostitutes, mafia guys or maybe Caesar?

No he was writing this to of all things Christians….

temple of artemisPaul was in prison when he wrote this and these were people in a small fledgling church in a Roman Province of Asia Minor with allot of crazy stuff going on. If you don’t know the story it’s sure worth understanding. (See the book of Galatians) People like to point the finger at the world with these passages, Paul is pointing directly at the church.  This region is where the temple of Artemis was located, one of the “seven wonders of the ancient world’ and was also involved in worship of Diana the goddess of prosperity.

“The Temple of Artemis at Ephesos was completed in 550 BCE and was 425 feet (129 metres) high, 225 feet (69 metres) wide, and supported by 127 60 foot (18 metres) columns. The temple is described by every ancient writer who mentions it with awe and reverence for its beauty. It was destroyed 21 July 356 by a man named Herostratus who set fire to the temple in order that his name be remembered. Because of this, the Ephesians executed him and prohibited his name from being spoken or written down. The historian Theopompus, however, wishing to write a complete history of the temple, recorded his name for posterity. The temple was re-built twice, on a more modest scale, and the first building was later destroyed by the Goths while the second was completely laid to waste by a Christian mob led by Saint John Chrysostom in 401 CE.”

In the letter Paul is writing a more literal translation of this reads:

“Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
– Galatians 5:19-21 (NASB) (emphasis added)

The key word here is “practice”. The Greek tense of the verb speaks to the “continual perpetual and habitual action. Although true believers can without doubt commit these sins, those people who’s basic character is summed up in the uninterrupted and unrepentant practice of them cannot belong to God.

This is the hardest question I have faced over my entire life and that is the assurance of my salvation and , what would have happened to me that night in 2008 when I almost died. Let me first say that I believe salvation is a free gift given to us by faith in Jesus and that God does not revoke his promises.

What about this statement:

“Salvation, while an irrevocable contract, is not an irreversible arrangement” – Jack Hayford

 

WOAH…..This question is worth taking the next “12 Hours” or 12 days or however long it takes to fully understand the implication of what Pastor Hayford is saying and what Paul is talking about in this letter to the Galatian Church

How This Plays Out In My Life

First of all I am not clever enough to navigate spiritual issues on my own. It is only the indwelling holy spirit that can do that, so don’t think what I am writing here has anything to do with me being clever or special in some way.

Based on my life I am interested in healing and I received confirmation on Monday in a prayer I found on YouTube of  Lou Engle praying that God raise up leaders to pray for healing. I knew when I found this that it was real confirmation that the choice was correct that I help in a healing ministry. A few hours later on that same day I met a man who a new friend of mine said would “help me learn to walk in the spirit”. I really just wanted to sit down with guys and have coffee and maybe make a friend as up to this point I didn’t have many.

As I sat down with him at a local coffee shop, I immediately noticed that he began to ask questions that were meant to make a person doubt the literal word as written. It seemed to need to be interpreted by him and his special insight. He said people were reading the Bible all wrong. I thought to myself “ok here we go again” so I asked “what is the message?” I wanted to get to the heart of the matter of where he is actually coming from. He said some things that really raised major red flags for me. He said that Jesus was not God that the son was something else. He said that if we pray to Jesus we are not praying to God. He has some secret knowledge of the nature of God. I asked if this was secret and he said people don’t know about this and that is why he is writing his books. He is speaking about a different “jesus” and this is exactly what Paul is warning the church of Galatia about. He went on but that’s not important to go into detail as what I have learned about the occult is that it is just very very very complicated. That’s how you spot it.

new-york-300He was saying that once someone believes they can live any lifestyle they choose and still be “saved”. I said that was a sad and dangerous message as most people are looking to get free from negative lifestyles and that is why they seek God in the first place. It also contradicts what Paul is warning the early Christians in Galatia against and that was they were living in major sin and still thinking they were “saved’. I said in my life I need to look at the “fruit” or behavior I am engaged in to know that something has dramatically changed which shows evidence of that change. Of course there is noting I can do to earn favor with God but Jesus said “by their fruits you will know them” and he is talking about me as well as others.

 

 

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”  –Galatians 5:22-23 (NASB)

I told him that I had a near death experience and after much soul searching am convinced that I might not have been saved before as my life did not show the evidence of that and that wasn’t something that I wanted to risk..

The Holy Spirit will uncover the heart of the matter if you get out of the way and allow him to work. So when he gave a complicated web of scriptures about who “god” was. I said “who cares about the complication? What’s the message?” He said “salvation” but I could see he was getting very frustrated and angry when I said “why does any of this matter?”. My expereince shows that people who are trying to overpower you just want to draw you into their own complication to make you dependent on them. The gospel is so very clear and simple that a small child can understand it and Jesus said himself in Matthew 18:3 that “unless you are like a child you cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Now the true message came out:

He had some story casting doubt on certain ministries( the exact one I found on Saturday) and that these people were dangerous and should be stopped. What are the chances that this guys agenda would be to dismantle the very ministry I was joining?

This statement is so ridiculous that it doesn’t even deserve any attention..

He had come complicated message about people not being in “the power of God” and that he had the way to do this, what was painfully evident was that he was trying to lead others after himself and his books or his “special way of reading between the lines”. Listen, with my background I can spot this from a mile away. It is always meant to divide and conquer and make people dependent on a person either alive or dead tell them what to do.

This all took a sort time and it was all the Lords leading.

There are only two questions that matter in my opinion:

Who is Jesus?
Where is there love and hope in their message and does it point to Jesus or back to themselves?

Teachers of the truth will always confront you with a very hard questions and then lead you to a authentic relationship with Jesus, like Jack Hayford.

I said your true message here is to divide and conquer the authority in these ministries WE ARE DONE! I stood up and said “I love you guys but your way off base here” as I walked away I again said “I love you guys” and he yelled “HAVE A GREAT LIFE!”

Yikes…..

The Excellence of Love

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.
– 1 Corinthians 13 (NASB)

He is not my enemy, I bless him and hope that he can find the healing he needs to just trust in the simple nature of faith in Jesus alone. I have been in that exact place, lost in the labyrinth and maze of the mind, it’s not a very good neighborhood in fact it’s a ghetto and you know what goes on in the ghetto, everything Paul is warning the Galatians about. Of course we all know about the sexual sins, or murder ect. but more subtle are the sins within the heart like: enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying. These are the one we have to see if we are practicing.

I can already see how God will turn around the situation with this man and use his story to reach many many people. If God can save me he can save anybody.

So I came home and was wrestling with this question so I typed in “lose my salvation jack hayford” and found this PDF called “The Sin Of Suicide”. If anything can describe the struggle I have had with this question it would be so perfectly defined by Jack Hayford first in the PDF I read,  and then in the video I found on YouTube today of a talk he did on October 18th 1984.

When he is describing what a person standing in the presence of Christ would feel about wasting their life is exactly how I felt that night in 2008.

I will say again here that from the bottom of my being I do not believe that I would have gone from the life I was leading to “sing in the heavenly choir” or some other shallow notion that have held. While my blood infection came from a root canal I didn’t take care of, it was because I was living on a “suicide run” and that was the bottom line…

Here’s the real issue: To even ponder this question or argue that I might have had salvation illustrates the depravity of our hearts. Let’s think about it….

Is my prayer “God how many alcohol or drugs can I use and still get into heaven?”  Is our prayer “How much anger and rage can I practice destroying others faith and hope over my life and still sing your praises forever?” “How much pornography, how much envy, jealousy and strife can I create, how selfish and how much can I consume to please myself……..and really God, how much can I sin but still make the cut to “get mine” in your heaven”.

Father forgive us…

I know my thoughts about God are so small as no one can possibly even understand the beginning of beginning of the awesome, just, love and power of almighty God who reigns for ever and ever.

It makes sense that I would get a clear answer from Jack Hayford, he is a pastors pastor and part of the authority God has set up for me to walk in. Please take the time and carefully listen to Pastor Hayfords talk, it has become the foundation from which I will share the near death experience and my call to a authentic relationship with Jesus on his terms.

As far as how this all worked out for me personally, the Lord has a place for me in ministry and tonight I had dinner and coffee with some really amazing strong Christians who warmly accepted me. 

I could have so easily been lead astray and gotten into fear and missed the blessing of this..

All Glory To God!

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