From The Second Half of the Cross
Because by definition a God-composed life-script contains the element “that not of yourselves,” no one has to possess an advanced degree in theology to be able to walk through a journey of faith following Jesus. In the perfect plans of God, Mary Magdelene can be privileged to be the first person to discover the empty tomb of Joseph of Arimathaea on Resurrection morning.
The security of knowing that Spirit-born Christians are eternally saved enables us to confidently listen in the Spirit, begin to obey God in small things to build trust, and to venture out into our first steps in a walk of faith. If our salvation is in the slightest doubt, based upon our performance, then no one would summon the courage to risk entering into an uncertain biblical quality journey of faith in the first place. No one would assume the eternal peril of losing our salvation inherent in the inevitability of challenges to our faith contained within a God-composed adventure of faith. If continued salvation is based upon our merit and performance, then no one would exercise the freedom to honestly question God’s leadership as the spiritual journey gets steeper, tighter, and more costly (Jer. 12:1).
But if we start out knowing upfront that God has already taken into account our weaknesses, which can have no effect upon the security of our salvation, then we are liberated to go out into an adventure of faith relying and leaning totally upon God.
If our salvation is insecure and partially dependent upon the quality of our performance and merit, this places people in the murky gray-area of human judgment and self-evaluation in the exclusively divine area of spiritual salvation. Paul judged not himself (1 Cor. 4:3). Salvation by grace through faith opens the door through the cross and the resurrection, free of vain imaginings and doubtful judgments as we listen to Jesus, study the Bible, walk in the Spirit, and discover God’s higher ways.
This is one of the secondary themes of this book. As Abraham walks from Haran to Canaan, God is displacing whatever horizontally conventional plans Abraham had according to the norms of the cities of Haran and Ur, with God’s unimaginatively higher destiny that God had planned for Abraham. A journey of faith involves risk of failure. But God would not ask us to place our eternal salvation at risk by entering into a journey of faith following Him, if by doing so that journey of faith could in any way jeopardize that salvation. Placing our salvation at risk by entering into a journey of faith would call into question the character of God at the most fundamental level. God invites us to pick up our cross and to follow Him precisely because the Spirit-born Christian now possesses eternal salvation.
This is part of the loving outreach of God through the Bible to us. A risk-filled adventure of faith leading to the discovery of “all truth,” and the great biblical salvation doctrines of the grace and mercies of God, are integrally linked together.
Every positive character in the Bible follows a God-composed life-script they could not possibly imagine or self-generate on their own. This bears constant repeating because this is a feature of the Bible that withstands the corrosive cynicism of radical skeptical unbelief in our modern culture. My contention in this book is that a biblical, God-composed journey of faith through the second half of the cross is so outside of and contrary to horizontal, worldly conventional thinking that it can only originate from a supernatural Author God.
If Jesus therefore is “for us” within a God-composed journey of faith through all of the circumstances and events of life, divinely tailored for us according to a formula that will mold and craft us into a blessing to ourselves and to others, then who or what can be against us?
The second half of the cross, in the narrative stories of faith recorded in the Bible, is as orthodox as orthodoxy can get for the highest reasons. Immanuel…”God with us”…cannot get any more orthodox than as portrayed in the biblical stories of God personally and intimately enlisting people into their callings of destiny. The biblical narrative stories of faith point out the right road of eternal life in harmony with God, with ourselves, and with others, which repeatedly and consistently begins each journey of faith at the foot of the cross.
Again, if our salvation is a probation conditionally based upon our performance, then we could not confidently surrender all to Jesus and follow Him up into the highest mountaintops or down into the darkest valleys. Without knowing beforehand I am saved for all eternity, I cannot confidently take the risk to follow Jesus to places I do not necessarily want to go, or in directions I do not initially fully understand. Without being eternally secure in my salvation, I cannot in confidence hand over the control of my life to Jesus to lead me into the sometimes challenging, difficult, and character-stretching life-lessons that inform the writing of this book.
Without being confident in my eternal salvation, how can I honestly and openly share my natural doubts and frustrations with God in prayer? When I am figuratively in Pharaoh’s prison like Joseph, or have a King Saul chasing after my life like David, or am in the process of getting up to carry on after being nearly stoned to death like Paul, how can I take my honest, questioning complaint to God if my salvation is unsecure and constantly in doubt? How can I cry out to God in desperate need of help if by doing so I am acknowledging my shortcoming in keeping up my end of the “bargain” in a merit-based salvation program dependent upon self-generated works, at the edge of “losing” my salvation?
One critical aspect of a walk of faith elevated above worldly conventional thinking is the absolute certainty that along the narrow way, God’s life-script calling for me will produce profound questions regarding truth, self-sacrifice, and the need to pay my dues in purchasing some measure of divine character, at the outer boundary of my capacity to be Christ-like (Lk. 22:42; 23:34).
Jesus purchased us with His own blood on the cross. The seal of the Holy Spirit through being born-again is the legal evidence…the proof of purchase of ownership. We start out as “fixer-uppers” with a lot of repair and renovation work needed in our characters. But the security of eternal salvation liberates us from falling back under the law and into condemnation once again (Heb. 9:12).
The substitute of no less than the life of Jesus the Son of God on the cross as payment for the penalty of our sin removes the believer from under the curse of the law and places us under grace. We are therefore dead to the law. For the saved person to become lost would require him to come once again under the law. But we cannot undo or reverse the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. No human has the capacity to nullify the salvation that comes from being redeemed, regardless of past, present, or even future shortcomings and failures (Jn. 10:28). Once we are in the palm of God’s hand, we are saved for evermore. We do not possess the power to independently jump out of the palm of God’s hand. This doctrine and teaching is essential to a journey of faith, and is one of the most important biblical truths of our times.
It is irrelevant and inconsequential in terms of evaluating another person’s salvation, if in our limited judgment some saved Christians appear to become “back-slidden” in unbelief. Discerning whether or not a person is living a Christian life is entirely different from judging whether that person is saved or not. Scripture says that man looks at the outer appearance but God looks at the heart (1 Sam. 1:7). Man’s judgment regarding another person’s salvation is inadequate and unqualified, and should never be the basis for the teaching of a doctrine that says saved people can become lost.
The high value of a voluntary journey of faith according to a God-composed life-script is so important to us that not only did Jesus die on the cross to procure this perfect redemption for us, but encompasses also the forbearance and patience of God in crafting the bare minimum life-lessons for those saved people who, for whatever reason, do not appear to us to enter into the fullness of a biblical walk of faith.