John Bradshaw: Hi, friends and welcome to Bible Talk where we talk about what the Bible has to say to us today. I'm John Bradshaw. With me is Gary Gibbs. Hi, Gary.
Gary Gibbs: John, it's good to be here with you today. We have a topic I think that every one of our listeners is going to be interested in.
John: Today we're talking about salvation and what the Bible says about how a person is to be saved.
Gary: So John, there are so many churches today and they don't always agree on everything and salvation, in fact, is one of those things that churches differ on. What does the Bible tell us about how we can be saved?
John: Well, the Bible tells us that all of us are sinners and need to be saved. And it gives us assurance that when we come to Jesus Christ recognizing our sinfulness, repenting of our sins, accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior that we can have assurance that we have passed from death to life, from being lost to being saved and having salvation.
Gary: John, I grew up in a part of the country that when I gave my heart to the Lord I remember it distinctly. I went down to the front, to the altar call.
Gary: You remember the traditional altar call? In fact, I don't know if a whole lot of churches that still do that today. But I went down, I gave my heart to the Lord and I remember the pastor telling me, "You are saved, my son. You can say that you're saved." And so I went out of there saying, "I'm saved! I'm saved!"
John: And the truth is if you've given your life to Jesus Christ really and truthfully you can have that assurance that you're saved. No problem at all.
Gary: But you know John, I've met people though, that when they say that they almost seem boastful and maybe even a little presumptuous.
John: Well, you want to cut people a little slack. I mean, maybe they are boastful and presumptuous, but I'm sure more often than not if you've ever encountered that, that's just the way people come off. I think you can have faith, not presumption, but faith and confidence if you've given your life to Jesus Christ. You don't want to be that boastful, presumptuous person, but you can know and have certainty that Christ has changed you and saved you. I think it would do the world a whole lot more good if more people had that confidence and rather than worrying and fretting, entered into a relationship with Jesus where they knew that he had saved them from their sins.
Gary: I agree. For me, I found it to be so refreshing and helpful. I know that God loves me. I know that God has saved me from my sins.
John: Amen. Right.
Gary: Yet I also know that I'm not perfect, either.
John: Sure, and this is where God works with us and grows us. Jesus talked about the parable of first the blade, then the ear, then the foghorn in the ear. And the Christian comes to Jesus and the life in Christ is a life of growth in his grace.
Gary: John, let me ask you a question that I think is pretty relevant to all our listeners. Is there a tendency to stretch this thing about being saved a little too far?
John: I think there is, and this is going to come back to you talking earlier about all the different churches and the different views on different subjects. For example, you may have met, I know I have met, people who believe that once they come down to the altar as you did, there is now no longer any possibility that they can be lost. In other words...
Gary: Now wait a minute. Is there? I thought once I went down on the alter the way I was taught growing up once I went down on the altar and I gave my life to the Lord, I was saved.
John: Sure you were saved.
Gary: And then that was it. There was no possibility of being lost after that.
John: Well, what that would presuppose then is that once Jesus captures you and puts you into the kingdom of heaven there is no way you can get out and no way you can escape. Now you probably shouldn't want to escape, but I don't think Jesus makes anybody captives finally and forever against their will. The Bible doesn't teach anywhere that you can't think again and give back that gift of salvation.
Gary: But John, there are a lot of people listening to our voices right now who are thinking of a Bible text, it's the same Bible text taught to me in my church in Sunday school.
John: John 10:28-29. Can I read it to you?
John: Go right ahead.
Gary: OK, it's Jesus speaking now so this is the red letter. This is the real thing. This is Jesus' words, his very own words. He says, "I give unto them eternal life and they shall never perish. Neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand."
John: Now I say Amen to that.
Gary: Alright, wait a minute. Listen: "My father, which gave them me is greater than all, and no man is able to pluck them out of my father's hands." So once I'm saved John, once I put my hand in his hand he's not letting go. There's no way that I can be lost. I made the decision. Jesus has made the decision. We are eternally melted together.
John: Now, Gary, listen. What a person can do is take a Bible verse, even one that appears to be clear, and make it say way more than the author intended for it to say. Now what this verse is saying is absolutely true. No one can take you out of God's hand. That means that when you go down to that altar, I can't come down there and drag you out of God's grip. When you come to Jesus I can't come to you and take away that gift of salvation from you. I can't do it. The devil can't do it. Your family and your friends can't do it. No man can pluck you out of God's hand. That's right. But there are other places in the Bible that indicate very clearly that you can take yourself out of God's hand. Do you want me to give you an illustration of that?
Gary: Do that. Tell me.
John: I've got a little boy, two years old. Anyone who has ever had a two-year-old is going to know that what I'm about to say is absolutely true.
Gary: And I have one. So, tell me what they do.
John: All right. Well, you know this from experience then. You will take your little two-year-old as I take mine by the hand, right? Now can anyone come and pluck your little girl out of your hand? Now, let's not stretch this to ridiculous. You might say Mr. Universe might, but I'm not going there. To all intents and purposes, can anyone take her out of your hand?
Gary: No, she's safe in my hand. I'm not letting go of her.
John: And my little boy is safe in my hand, too, and there's nothing that can get him out of my hand. Now let me ask you this question... Have you ever been walking along with your little princess and you've said, "Now come this way darling," as I've said to my little boy, "Come on son," and all of a sudden like an eel or something that little hand just slips right out of your hand and he's gone? Has that ever happened?
Gary: Oh, just this week. She's got a will of her own. I was trying to get her to go one direction... We were crossing a curb and I knew she was going to trip and fall on that curb. Did she want daddy's help? Not at all. And I couldn't hold that hand. You're right. She's able to wiggle that little hand out. And I had to talk her back into putting that hand in mine...
Gary: ...or she was going to fall and bust her face.
John: Exactly. Many are the times you'll be in the store, and my little boy sees something, and it's not that they're bad kids now, but they just [makes "shoop" noise] . They're just out of your hand and they're gone. Now there's one way around that, Gary, and that is, you grip the hand of your child so tightly that they've got no choice in the matter.
Gary: Yeah, but then she cries, and makes a scene, and all that type of stuff.
John: She's got no choice in the matter and her heart is not engaged. Now, we know when this thing works best, right? You take hold of your child's hand and you say, "Come with me." And they do so, how?
Gary: They cooperate willingly. They know it's the thing to do.
John: That's it. Willingly, you see. Now when we come to Jesus, no one can take us out of his hand. We can choose to do so, though. We can choose to take our hand out of his hand, and say, "Lord, I don't want to have my hand in your hand anymore." Now, does that make any sense?
Gary: No, it doesn't. Because like my little child when I was walking her, without me, she was going to trip and fall. She really needed to keep her hand in my hand.
John: Right. The only time there is safety is when our hand is in Christ's hand, right? But you look at the Bible. What did Joshua say? "Choose ye this day whom ye will serve." Didn't he say that?
Gary: Yes, he did.
John: Salvation is all about a choice. In Romans, chapter six, "Know ye not that you are the servants of the one to whom you yield yourselves to obey." Who you choose to obey.
Gary: So John, what you're saying is, salvation is a choice. And then when Jesus says, "No man will pluck you out of my hand," you're saying nobody else can pluck you out of God's hand but you, yourself. You make the choice whether you stay in Christ, or out of Christ.
John: Let me read you a verse that answers that question in the affirmative. 1 Timothy 4:16, "Take heed unto thyself and unto the doctrine, continue in them. For in doing this..." In doing what, now? Continuing, right? "In doing this thou shalt both save thyself and them that hear thee." It's when you continue. Jesus said, "If you continue in my word, then you're my disciples indeed." Think of some examples in the Bible of people who did not do this. King Saul, right?
John: Filled with the spirit. Right?
John: He went out onto the barren hills of Gilboa, fell on a sword, died at his own hand. You'd have to be fooling yourself to imagine that Saul died saved.
Gary: Would Judas be an example of that in the New Testament?
John: Judas would almost have to be, wouldn't he?
Gary: Because he was used by God to do miracles. He was part of the 12 that did miracles, part of the 70 that did miracles. So God had to be working through him at some point in his life.
John: He did great things. Ananias and Sapphira. Now let's be honest. The Bible doesn't say Ananias and Sapphira were saved, but as far as we can tell, they were in a church serving the Lord. And what happened? They were dishonest, lied to the Holy Spirit, dead, lost.
Gary: John, let me ask you a question then. OK. So, you're saying that when I make that commitment to Christ, I give my life to him. I can have the assurance right then that he accepts me. Right?
John: Right then. Full assurance.
Gary: OK. So I have the assurance of salvation and I can say I'm saved. But then you're also saying that if I make wrong choices against God, then I have taken my hand out of God's hand.
John: That's right.
Gary: Now I can't have that assurance, or can I?
John: When your hand... Or, let me ask you the question. When your little girl's hand is out of your hand, who has any assurance at all that she's going to cross the street in one piece? There's no assurance.
Gary: Probably only her. Because she doesn't know what's lurking around the corner. [laughs]
John: There you go, see. There's no assurance for anyone when our hand is not in the hand of God. Now let's try to make this a little more practical. You're hammering a nail, working on your house, and you bang your thumb, and say something you shouldn't have said, and that Jesus didn't want you to say. Now you don't have to lose any sleep, "Oh, I'm lost now because I made a mistake." We're talking about somebody drawing their heart away from God's heart.
Gary: But wait a minute. You mean if I bang my finger and an expletive comes out, a really bad one, you mean I can tell myself, "Now don't worry about that. I'm saved. God accepts me. And every now and then, I'm going to bang my finger and shout. And it won't be shouting glory."
John: No. What I would say is that when that happens, and if you're truly a Christian now, God's going to speak to your heart about that and convict you. And at that moment...
Gary: My wife's going to speak to my heart and convict me. [laughs]
John: Yeah, and as well she ought. At that moment you'd repent, tell the Lord how sorry you are. And let's understand something, what is Christianity? It's having a relationship with Jesus. And when Jesus is in your heart and your hand is in his hand, are you going to want to carry on living the old life? Yes or no?
Gary: No, not at all. I want to change. I don't like being that person.
John: And then when you fall into sin, is Christ going to speak to you and convict you of that?
Gary: He is, and he does. I'm not perfect. He still does. He speaks to my heart.
John: Yes, he will. And that's the way Christianity works. What Jesus invites us into is a relationship with him... [music begins]
John: ...where our hand is in his hand. We don't want to separate. We don't want to fall. That's the joy of the gospel, that Christ can change a heart. Gary, good conversation today. Thank you.
Gary: It has been. And I'm glad that we've been able to have this because we can have the assurance of salvation, and yet we realize our choices are vital to our destiny.
John: Friend, thanks for joining us today. Join us for more next time, right here at Bible Talk. [music changes]
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