To Receive or to Obey?
But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the children of God, even to them that believe on His name. Jn. 1:12
And being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation to all them that obey Him. Heb. 5:9
There is a spectral beauty to the event of salvation that has eluded us in this age. Much of God’s truth is spectral. This is so because life is spectral, and God’s truth is living.
Maturity is found in learning to see and embrace the spectrum of living truth in its proper proportions. (This ministry is dedicated to discovering and explaining such spectrums.) As is so often the case, we tend to become persuaded and enamored of one element in the spectrum, and then define the whole by the one facet. Such fixation is characteristic of immaturity and, if left unchecked, breeds a religious spirit unto error and false contention.
Here, I want to just briefly comment on the spectral truth of salvation. In so doing, I hope to eliminate commonly held error that is a source of false contention.
Everyone in our fellowship understands we are saved by “believing” in Christ. But there is a spectrum to believing and its saving effects that gives us trouble. Let’s look at this with care.
There is an early believing and a mature believing in Christ. The first is a believing unto spiritual “conception,” the second a believing unto “birth” of a new creation. The two may come to full fruition at once in the heart, or there may be a development between them over a period of time.
In the first believing, we believe in Christ for what He has done for us on the cross to pay the penalty and to forgive us of our sins. In the second believing, we surrender our lives as dedicated followers (disciples) of His word.
· Receiving Faith
Each of these phases of belief carries corresponding life-bearing saving results. The faith for receiving Christ yields the washing away and forgiveness of our sins. This is commonly known as justification. It produces the conception of eternal life in us that has the potential to become a completed new birth identity in the Father.
This is the basic** meaning of John 1 which says, “to as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the children of God.” Receiving the Lord “gives us the power to become” His children. It is not however the same as the actual becoming. The "power to become" is what a conception is, while the actual "becoming" is what new birth is, marked by a yet higher faith.
[**For the ultimate meaning of Jn. 1:12, see "The Mystery of Spiritual Blood Transfusion."]
By receiving faith, we come into what Peter calls the “knowledge of the truth.” And we are also able to partake of the Holy Spirit’s powers and anointings.
· Obeying Faith
Obeying Faith puts us beyond just a new position relative to Christ. It gives us new identity. Obeying Faith is the faith by which we are actually recreated to be the children of God, or what we call being “born again.” Obeying Faith moves us past the “knowledge of the truth” to the actual “knowing of the Father” which is also the bringing forth into manifest actualization His knowing of us from eternity.
Obeying Faith is catalyzed by repentance. Repentance is the submitting of the receiving heart to the lordship of Christ, demonstrated by actions of obedience in response to the commands of the Spirit. Those actions are the “fruit” and the “work” of the Spirit by which faith is made evident and proved to be living. Obeying Faith is characterized by an inward sealing and possession by the Spirit beyond access to His gifts and powers.
The greatest difference between Receiving Faith and Obeying Faith is in the permanency of their saving effects. This is the most important understanding we must gain from this discussion as it is a cause of extreme contention in the Christian mind. While both types of believing produce encounters with the eternal life of God, the saving effects of Receiving Faith are not permanently secure and may be lost, while the effects of Obeying Faith are permanently secure and can never be lost.
Until one becomes actually born again of the eternal life of God, he may still be lost if His receiving faith does not come to term through repentant surrender. One may be forgiven of sins, washed by the blood, and even receive limited access to the Holy Spirit’s powers. Yet without repentance, he may still fall away, reversing the effects of salvation, drawing back to perdition and to eternal damnation.
However, once one’s receiving faith has come to term and through repentance produces in him new identity, he can never be lost and will never fall away. His faith will endure to the end. This is because the seed of the Father in a man “remains in him” and, once reborn, a man can never “unbecome” what he has become. Obeying Faith is an eternally secure faith.
Assurance of salvation and permanency of salvation are not the same. Assurance refers to a state of persuasion regarding one’s knowledge of his own salvation. But assurance is not the substance, determiner or proof of one’s salvation.
Assurance of eternal salvation is tied to the demonstration of one’s fruit of obedience. Until one’s receiving faith has become surrendered faith, he can have no assurance of the eternal permanence of his salvation even though he knows his sins have been forgiven. He can only gain this assurance if he knows he has surrendered his life to the Lord. Any other assurance is false.
However, past new birth, assurance can remain only as long as one demonstrates a surrendered life. The born again heart is not immune to temptation and may under testing suffer temporary lapses of sin through weaknesses not yet overcome. (Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.) However, as long as such lapses are in force, assurance can be put in doubt. In this it is possible for some who are permamently born of the Father not to have right to the assurance of it.
Avoiding the Errors
The errors propelled along the spectrum of faith regarding salvation’s effects and their permanence should be evident to us. Many offer an incomplete gospel that fails to call to repentance and discipleship obedience. These teach that receiving Christ and His forgiveness is all one needs for new birth and permanent assurance of eternal life—and is especially guaranteed if one is able to “flow” in the powers of the Holy Spirit.
On the other hand, there are those who offer a false gospel of new birth subject to loss, teaching it is not possible to have confidence in the permanence of our new identity in Christ. Among these are some who also teach salvation by acts (works) of repentance and religious adherence to discipleship commands of scripture.
But if we understand the spectrum of salvation, we can see through these errors and can also mature out of subjection to the controversy promoted by these myopic perceptions.
This has been a very short study on a very massive topic. I’ve purposely avoided citing the wealth of scriptures behind each phrase in this teaching. (Perhaps a “study version” of this can follow.) But for now, my desire is to offer a simple picture of the beauty of the spectrum of living faith with its rightful conditions and delimitations. May we find profit in meditating by these thoughts on the “so great salvation” we have been given through our Lord Jesus Christ.
New Meadow Neck, RI
First Love Ministry
- a ministry of Anglemar Fellowship
Page created August 28, 2007