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Salvation is Irrevocable, Part 3 B

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
May 25, 2021 4:00 am

Salvation is Irrevocable, Part 3 B

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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The love of God toward us is all bound up in Christ, and the reason God has set His eternal love on us is because He has covered us with the righteousness of Christ, so that His love for us is not conditioned on what we are, but on what Christ is. Understood? And that can't change.

That's an offer. In this podcast, John MacArthur looks at a chapter he calls one of the most shocking in all of Scripture, and he explains what it means for you and for your salvation. Perhaps you recently yielded to a temptation that you had never struggled with before. Or maybe you wrestle with the same temptation day after day. How does that sin affect your ultimate standing with God? Is it possible to sin so badly that God would withdraw His saving grace from you? John MacArthur answers that today as he continues his compelling study titled, The Grip of God.

Now here's John. Open your Bible to Romans chapter 8 as we come to the final portion of this great chapter. In Jeremiah 31, 3, God said to His people, I have loved you with an everlasting love, and that is the kind of love that God places upon those who belong to Him eternally, and that's what we've been learning in this great chapter. Scripture is filled with promises about the eternality of our salvation, that whom the Lord saves He secures forever. And, of course, that is what we've been seeing in this great chapter. It all began in verse 1. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. If you're in Christ, if you've been placed into Christ, into union with Christ through faith in Him, there will never be any condemnation. The rest of the chapter goes on to demonstrate why that is true and culminates at the very end in verses 31 to 39 by answering any possible objections. Verse 31, what then shall we say to these things? What could we expect as a response?

Well, this anticipates that some will object. Some are going to say, well, in spite of all that we've learned, we could lose our salvation. It is possible, and so Paul takes the conceivable objections and answers them as he closes this chapter. We are God's elect. God has justified us, made us righteous. He's not about to turn us loose. God cannot let go of us of His own will because He has predetermined that we should be His forever and He is for us. Satan cannot somehow rest us, as it were, from the hands of God because God will not let it happen. He has given us the greater gift.

He will do the lesser work to hold on to us. Christ won't let us go either. He already died for us, rose for us, and now is at the right hand of God, interceding for us, and we saw that all in our last study. So it is not possible that we should be taken from the hand of God. There is not a person or persons who can cause us to lose our salvation. Then we come to verse 35, and we come to the matter of circumstances. What if under the pressure of temptation we would fall and reject Christ? What if under the pressure of temptation we would abandon our faith and remove ourselves, as it were? What if the cost of discipleship is so high and the price to pay for following Christ so great that we're no longer willing to do that?

Well, that's taking us into verses 35 to 37. What shall separate us from the love of Christ? Tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, or sword, just as it is written, For Thy sake we are being put to death all day long.

We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered. But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. Can we stand the pressure without forsaking Christ? And Paul says, yes, absolutely. There isn't anything that can separate us from the love of Christ. And though that implies our love to Him, it most notably speaks of His love for us. He loves us to the fullest extent that it is possible for Him to love His creature. He cannot love any creature more than He loves His own.

That's just incredible. His love is an everlasting love. He loves to the max and there is nothing, absolutely nothing that can separate them from that love. You know, I'm drawn to what is an incredible illustration of this love. Turn to Ezekiel 16 and this illustrates the unbreakable love that God has. This is a chapter that many rabbis have forbidden to be read in synagogues.

It is very graphic and it is very tragically dishonoring to Israel and that's why rabbis have not allowed it to be read. But the Word of the Lord came to Ezekiel as he was over by the River Kebar already in captivity. And the Lord was telling him that he had been deported with one of the earlier groups and God was about to destroy Jerusalem and Judah. And so in verse 3, the Lord speaks and He says to Jerusalem through the prophet, your origin and your birth are from the land of the Canaanite. You remember that that was the land of the Canaanite when the Israelites came there and conquered it. Your father was an Amorite, not your genetic father, but your forebears in the land and your mother a Hittite.

Those were the pagan nations that were there when Israel came in. As for your birth, on the day you were born, your navel cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water for cleansing. You were not rubbed with salt, which was done to infants as a disinfectant or even wrapped in cloths.

You know what happened? A baby was born and somebody just took that baby without cleaning that baby at all, leaving the umbilical cord hanging out of that little body and just pitched that baby out in an open field. Verse 5, no eye looked with pity on you to do any of these things for you, to have compassion on you. Rather you were thrown out into the open field for you were hated on the day you were born. Abortion was less common in the ancient world, but throwing away newborn babies was quite common. And when somebody didn't want a child, they just took that child, ripped it as it were out of its mother's womb, left it in the condition it was in, and just pitched it into a dirt pile. That was Israel. God found Israel like an unwanted baby lying in the dirt, unwashed, unclothed. Verse 6, when I passed by you and saw you squirming in your blood, I said to you while you were in your blood, live. I said to you while you were in your blood, live. That's sovereign love, folks.

That's sovereign election. God just finds this dirty outcast and gives it life purely because He chose to do it. I made you numerous like plants of the field, and now we see God nurturing this life. You grew up, you became tall, you reached the age for fine ornaments. Your breasts were formed and your hair had grown, yet you were naked and bare. This is like a little girl who reaches the age of puberty, and it is no longer appropriate for her to be unclothed, passed by you and saw you, and behold, you were at the time for love.

That's puberty. So I spread my skirt over you and covered your nakedness. It's time now to put on your clothes.

And this speaks of God's wonderful blessings to Israel when He brought them, as it were, out of the infancy and the barrenness and the nakedness of the wilderness wanderings, and brought them into the land of Israel and clothed Israel. I bathed you with water. I washed off your blood from you at the start. I anointed you with oil. I clothed you with embroidered cloth, and I put sandals of porpoise skin on your feet. And I wrapped you with fine linen and covered you with silk. I adorned you with ornaments, put bracelets on your hands.

It's like God raising a daughter and just decking her out. You were adorned with gold and silver. Your dress was fine linen, silk, and embroidered cloth.

You ate fine flour, honey, and oil. You were exceedingly beautiful, and you advanced to royalty. In fact, the royalty of that nation was so remarkable that even the Queen of Sheba came to see it, didn't she?

This is the story of God rearing Israel. Your fame went forth among the nations on account of your beauty. It was perfect because of my splendor, which I bestowed on you, says the Lord God. And God says, I did all that.

And what did they have to do? They were nothing but a dirty, filthy little infant lying in dirt and blood in the middle of a field. And verse 15 is quite interesting. But you trusted in your beauty, and you played the harlot.

And you took off some of your clothes, and you made for yourselves high places of various colors. Verse 15 says you poured out your harlotries on every passerby who might be willing. They were so vile, they didn't even care with whom they committed harlotry. This is idolatry, by the way.

This would be like a wife who had been given everything that a husband could possibly give a wife, who went out as a prostitute and could care less who it was that she engaged herself with. And you played the harlot, and you took all that I gave you, and you turned it into idol worship, forms of idol worship. You offered incense and oil to the false gods, and he goes on to describe this. Verse 21, you slaughtered my children. They actually offered their babies on a fire to the god Moloch.

This is just an incredible story. And even after all of that, verse 28 says you weren't satisfied. So you played the harlot with them, and you still weren't satisfied. You had such a lust and such a passion for evil, it couldn't even be satisfied.

No matter what you did, it couldn't be satisfied. Well, he goes on to the chapter. It's the longest chapter in Ezekiel. I won't go through the whole thing. Down in verse 46, he says you were worse than Samaria and worse than Sodom.

Now listen to that, very important. You were worse than your northern sister Samaria, and you were worse than Sodom. And believe me, Samaria was wretched, and Sodom was more wretched. God destroyed Sodom with fire and brimstone, didn't He? But at the end of verse 47, you acted more corruptly in all your conduct than they did. You were worse than Samaria and worse than Sodom. Go to verse 60. Nevertheless...boy, I'll underline that word. Nevertheless, I will remember My covenant with you in the days of your youth and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you.

Is that unbelievable? In spite of all of that, My love for you is unbreakable. Verse 62, I'll establish My covenant with you and you'll know that I am the Lord in order that you may remember and be ashamed and never open your mouth anymore because of your humiliation when I have forgiven you for all that you have done.

Let me tell you something. There's a principle here. And Israel is distinct as a nation from us as individuals, but the principle is the same. When God sets His love on someone, nothing breaks it. I'm not saying that we're not going to fall to temptation. I'm not saying we're not going to sin. I'm not saying that when persecution comes, we don't fear those things.

I'm not saying that we would never question God about those things. But God loves us to the max with an unbreakable love through which He will provide for us forgiveness. And for us in the New Covenant, 1 Corinthians 10, 13, no temptation will ever overtake us, but such is as common to man and God is faithful who will also make a way of what?

Escape that you may be able to bear it. When God sets His love on someone, it's permanent. In spite of all their failures, it's permanent. And Israel, He says, will someday remember and be ashamed. And Zechariah says, someday Israel will look on Him whom they've pierced and mourn for Him as an only son and a fountain of blessing will be opened, a fountain of cleansing, and Israel will be saved because God has set His love on that nation, individuals in that nation that constitute His special people. Well, back to Romans 8, that was just a digression of thought. So, what will separate us from the love of Christ?

Nothing. In all the things that come, we will overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us because His love for us will never be broken and in that love He provides sustaining faith. Our faith will not die.

We may have our moments of doubts. Our faith will not die because He grants to us sustained faith. And so He says in summing it up in verse 38, I am convinced that neither death nor life nor angels nor principalities nor things present nor things to come nor powers nor height nor depth nor any other created things shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Folks, that says everything that could possibly be said. I am persuaded, this is a confident declaration of a Holy Spirit-inspired man. I have a settled conclusion and I'm telling you this, not even death, the great enemy, not even death can separate us, not even the gates of Hades which Satan wants to use against us.

Hebrews 2 says it's the weapon he uses. For us, precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints. Death can't separate us from the love of Christ. In fact, death just ushers us into it, doesn't it? What about life?

Life with all its dangers, life with all its difficulties, life with all its temptations, life with all its troubles. What are you saying here is there is no state of being here or there, live or dead. There is no state of being in which we can be separated from the love of Christ. Listen to 1 Corinthians 3, verse 21, all things belong to you whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or things present or things to come, all things belong to you and you belong to Christ and Christ belongs to God.

There is no sphere in which you could exist. There is no state of being in which you could exist which would be outside the eternal love of Christ, nor are there any personalities that could separate you, nor angels, he says. And Paul probably here is thinking about good angels, no good angel, not that they would, this is hypothetical, but no good angel can alter our salvation. It's not possible for even a good angel to do that, it's impossible.

And then he says, principalities, and probably there he has in mind evil angels because he uses that term to express evil angels in Ephesians chapter 6 and Colossians chapter 1, no holy angel and no demon. That is to say, there is no state of being in which you could be separated from the love of Christ and there are no supernatural angelic beings, either good or evil, who could affect such a separation. No state of being and no demons or angels can alter our eternal glory. And then just to throw in anything else, nor things present, nor things to come. There is nothing here and now. There's nothing in the present age, in the present time, at the present moment, and there's nothing in any future time, any future age, or any future moment, including the judgment of God that's coming on the world. You know, it's really sad when you meet people who don't know if they're Christians, who don't know if they're going to make it, who don't know if they're going to hang on, who are worried that it may be okay right now, but I don't know what's going to happen in the future and they live in fear, and the worst fear is, I heard a preacher say this one time, if you ever die with any unconfessed sin, you might not know about it, but God does and when you get to the judgment, you'll be cast into hell. There is nothing that could happen in the future, including the judgment of God, that could separate you from the love of Christ. No state of being, no supernatural power, either good or evil angels, and no dimension of time or eternity, not the present and not the future, not now and not ever could we be separated from the love of Christ. And then he adds, nor powers. When plural, when used plural in a plural form in the New Testament, it frequently, most frequently refers to miracles.

There is no mighty work, there is no mighty miracle, no mighty power, no state of being, no supernatural creature, no period in time or eternity, and no power source in existence could separate you from the love of Christ. And then as if that's not enough, he says, nor height, nor depth. You say, what does that mean?

Well, that just covers everything. Height is an astrological term, upsoma, was a term used to describe the orbit of a star or the apex of the orbit of a star when a star was at its zenith, the highest point that they could imagine or conceive of. There's nothing...there's nothing in infinite space above.

There's nothing...and bathos, depth, was the term used to describe the star at its lowest point of orbit. There's nothing at the extreme and infinite point of the highest heaven and the extreme and infinite point of the lowest heaven, and there's nothing anywhere from one end of heaven to the other that can separate us from the love of Christ. There is no state of being, not in time or eternity. There is no created being, whether a holy angel or an evil one.

There is no dimension of time either in time or eternity. There is no source of power and there is no place in the endless universe where there is anything that could ever sever us from the love of Christ. Nothing in this life or the life to come. Nothing in time, nothing in eternity. Nothing in the world of angels, nothing in the world of demons.

No power, nothing on earth, nothing in the infinite heavens, nothing, nothing. And just in case someone says, except, he adds, nor any other created thing. No exceptions, none shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. You understand that the love of God toward us is all bound up in Christ, and the reason God has set His eternal love on us is because He has covered us with the righteousness of Christ so that His love for us is not conditioned on what we are but on what Christ is, understood?

And that can't change, that's unalterable. You notice in verses 31 to 34, the emphasis is on the love of God. In verses 35 to 39, it's on the love of Christ and the two are linked inseparably, inseparably.

Nothing can change it. All of our failures and all of our foibles and all of our stumblings and all of our sins and all of our willful disobedience doesn't change the fact that He loves us to the max and His love is ours from eternity to eternity. He set His love upon us in eternity past and He will love us throughout eternity future. And He loves us not because of what we are but because of what we have become in Christ, right?

He loves what we are in Christ. One of the loveliest hymns to the secure love of God was penned by a man named George Matheson. It was written in 1882, in fact on June the 6th of 1882. And George Matheson was born in the city of Glasgow in Scotland. He was born there in 1842, so he was 40 years old when he wrote this. And he had as a boy only partial vision. His sight failed rapidly and by the time he was 18, George Matheson was totally blind. So he had been blind for about 22 years when he wrote this lovely hymn.

Despite his blindness, by the way, he was a brilliant scholar at the University of Glasgow, both in the university and the seminary, and amazingly became the pastor of a 2,000-member church in Edinburgh, became one of the greatest preachers of his day, one of the purest pastors of his day as well. But George Matheson missed something in life, I guess we might say, he never married. But there's a story about why he never married. He was engaged to his fiancée and all was going well until he told her just before their marriage that he had just learned that he would soon be totally blind.

Upon hearing that, and he was in his late teens at the time, she left him. It was out of the pain of that very experience that he wrote a tribute to the love of God which never forsakes. The hymn went like this, O love that will not let me go, I rest my weary soul in thee, I give thee back the life I owe, that in thine ocean depths its flow may richer, fuller be. With a girl it was a love that easily let him go, with God it was a love that wouldn't. And we're right back where we started, Jeremiah 31, 3, I have loved you with an everlasting love. This is Grace to You with John MacArthur.

Thanks for being with us. John's current study is showing you what it means to be forever sealed in the grip of God. You know, John, I was converted when I was 17 years old, and the very first doctrinal question that occurred to me was about eternal security.

I remember asking the pastor who baptized me to explain this issue to me. And as I think about what you're saying in this study, the Lord goes to so much trouble to explain the permanence of His grip on our souls. Talk about what's at stake if we don't believe or don't understand that our salvation is forever.

Well, first of all, there's the doctrinal reality. If you don't understand that salvation is forever, then you have diminished the work of God and the work of Christ. If you think that Christ did not accomplish the full satisfaction of divine justice in His own death on behalf of sinners, then you have diminished the work of Christ.

And I think that's where you have to start. You have diminished the work of Christ. Somehow the sufficiency of Christ that we talk about is not complete.

In other words, He didn't do everything. He got us partway there, and we have to make sure we hang on, hold on, don't fall away. That is an assault on the perfection of the atoning work of Christ, as well as the validation of the Father on that atoning work by raising Him from the dead. Secondly, and that comes to the personal side of it, you put yourself in a ridiculous position of trying to hang on to your own salvation, which, again, if you believe you can lose your salvation, not only have you diminished the work of Christ, but you've elevated your own power to a point where you believe that you can do something to hold onto it. We know salvation is by grace alone through faith alone and not of works. So if it starts that way, it has to continue that way. You're not saved by grace and then kept by works.

That's absurd. So you not only diminish the full atoning and complete work of Christ on the cross, but you overestimate your own power. So as we draw this series to a close, The Grip of God, I hope you've been encouraged. This is the most encouraging doctrine that God holds onto His own people. The Grip of God series, by the way, is available from Grace To You, seven MP3 downloads that you can order at GTY.org, or you can get a seven-CD album. The cost is reasonable, and we ship for free in the U.S. You can also review the manuscripts for the seven messages at GTY.org. I hope you'll do that. Yes, and friend, as John said, knowing that your salvation is forever is one of the most encouraging doctrines in all of Scripture.

So this is a great study to review when trials inevitably come your way. To pick up The Grip of God, contact us today. Our toll-free number here is 800-55-GRACE, or you can order online at GTY.org. Again, all seven messages from this series, The Grip of God, are free to download at GTY.org. In fact, all of John's messages from 52 Years of Pulpit Ministry are available to you free of charge at our website, GTY.org. And friend, if you still have questions about your own salvation after listening to today's lesson, perhaps you're not sure if you're saved, or if you'd like a helpful resource to put in the hands of someone you know is struggling with doubt, let me recommend John's book called Saved Without a Doubt. It spells out a biblical strategy for growing in assurance, and it can help you know for certain that you are God's child. To order, call 800-55-GRACE, or order online at GTY.org. Now for John MacArthur and the staff, I'm Phil Johnson, inviting you back tomorrow when John launches a series on some of the Bible's most popular but misunderstood passages. That study is titled, Mishandled, Setting the Record Straight on Frequently Abused Verses. Don't miss the next half hour of Unleashing God's Truth, one verse at a time, on Wednesday's Grace to You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-14 11:44:47 / 2023-11-14 11:55:14 / 10

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