Paul's Passing Thoughts

What Does it Mean to Persevere in Salvation?

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on December 10, 2014

“The world cares little about those who merely love Jesus, but will readily cut you in half for living according to His doctrine.”

 “If you are not a student of doctrine, you are not a lover of Jesus, you are a liar.”

I heard it again this morning: “They don’t know anything about doctrine, they just love Jesus.” Sigh. I have a confession to make. These types of Protestant truisms often verbalized from habit suck the wind out of my sails. What is it that is so discouraging about being a Baptist? Confusion. We think doctrine is really, really important, and of course our doctrine comes from the Bible, but “love” somehow trumps the nasty “D” word “doctrine.” A pity that it can’t be spelled with four letters. At least Muslims are not confused about their doctrine as displayed in their penchant for beheading people. A good Baptist wouldn’t dream of beheading anyone, we are just morally confused. At least Catholics know the Pope is the “Holy Father” and make no bones about it. Baptists hiss at such a notion, knowing it’s errant, but are completely ignorant about what is true.

American Christianity is in a biblical definition of words crisis. No religious follower can throw around words without really understanding the meanings like a Protestant. “Gospel,” “faith,” “salvation,” “grace,” “perseverance,” etc., are words we use often, but we really don’t know what they mean. No one can say “amen” while clueless like a Baptist. Dear Baptist pastor, don’t be encouraged when you hear “amen” from your congregants on Sunday morning; let’s be honest, they really have no clue what you are talking about. While claiming to be the sultans of salvation, most Baptists don’t even know its correct biblical definition.

“Nonsense! We know what that word means! It means we are saved from our sins by faith alone because of what Jesus did!”

Ok, so what do you do with Paul writing that we need to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling? It’s not a contradiction; Paul is talking about salvation in regard to redemption, not justification. But, in order to know what that verse means, you need to know doctrine. So, let me rephrase the truism at hand:

“They don’t have a clue about anything the Bible says, they just love Jesus.”

Well, bless their little hearts, but Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” Jesus’ mandate to the church was to “make disciples” (learners), teaching them to observe “ALL that I have commanded.” If you don’t know your Bible, you can’t love Jesus. If you don’t know your Bible, you don’t know doctrine.

Doctrine, law, commandments, and “truth,” are biblically synonymous. The primary characteristic of a saved person is love for the truth (2Thess 2:10). The saved person loves doctrine, law, the commandments, and truth (2Tim 4:2-4, Rom 8:1-8 Psalms 119). There is NO love for Jesus apart from His truth. “Why do you call me Lord and do not what I say?” A person who loves Jesus is a learner of doctrine. A person who loves Jesus is a student of doctrine. If you are not a student of doctrine, you are not a lover of Jesus, you are a liar.

How bad is it? I had three Baptist elders from a conservative Baptist church sit in my living room, and one proudly boasted, “I’m an elder, not a theologian.” God help us. This is beyond horrible. Till this day, I do not regret standing up and screaming at him, “THEN GET OUT OF THE MINISTRY!”

This brings us to the word “perseverance” in regard to “suffering.” Primarily, in the Bible, these two words regard the suffering we will endure for living according to truthful doctrine. The world wages a relentless onslaught against truth, and we are called on to persevere against that onslaught. The world cares little about those who merely love Jesus, but will readily cut you in half for living according to His doctrine. If you want to know what that can look like, see Hebrews chapter 11.

There is a salvation left for the Christian; it is a salvation from this mortal body, what Paul called the body of death in regard to its mortality. This mortality must put on immortality. We call that “redemption,” the other salvation (Rom 7:24, 25 [the word “wretched” refers to perseverance in the Greek]). Something that is redeemed has already been purchased, ie., we are already purchased and therefore justified. We still look forward to our redemption when Christ comes back to claim what He has already purchased on the cross. We are not our own, we “were bought with a price.” Christ purchased us from the world slave master.

Our present salvation (sanctification looking for the blessed hope of redemption) is for reward (Heb 6:10), justification is a gift. The Hebrew writer encouraged the Jewish believers to persevere in the truth, looking to Jesus the author (justification) and finisher (redemption) of our faith. They were told to persevere and put their suffering for the truth in perspective; they had not yet “resisted unto blood” like Jesus had. Look, I understand, in most cases, there are no doctrinally sound churches anywhere near where you live, but those of you who still attend such churches so your children will have friends—you might consider such. Jesus stood for truth unto death while you bemoan loosing “friends” over the truth. The Jews written to had already lost everything they owned, so the Hebrew writer encouraged them by noting that they still had their lives.

“Loving” Jesus apart from loving doctrine is just part of the worldly onslaught against the gospel, and is an excuse not to persevere for the sake of truth. “By much suffering we must enter into the kingdom,” and that suffering refers to “those who live godly in Christ WILL suffer persecution.” I know, I know, we are “only” talking about loss of reward here, but what about our real love for Jesus? Where is your passion to hear, “well done faithful servant” from the one who left the glories of heaven to purchase us from the world?

And remember, loving Jesus apart from doctrine is in fact a doctrine. Everyone lives by some doctrine—it might as well be one that leads to eternal life.

How deep is your real love?


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